US Senators Urge UK To Reconsider Huawei Decision

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Bipartisan group of US senators urge the United Kingdom to reconsider decision to allow Huawei limited access for 5G networks

The UK is being urged to change his decision about allowing Huawei Technologies to supply equipment for 5G networks in the UK.

According to Reuters, twenty Republican and Democratic senators wrote a letter to the UK House of Commons, calling for MPs to reconsider their government’s decision about Huawei.

Last month Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary for cyber, international communications and information policy at the US State Department, warned that the US administration would continue to pressure the UK to ban Huawei from its 5G networks.

Image credit: Huawei

Letter to MPs

The rare display of unity of Republican and Democratic senators underlines the deep institutional opposition by US lawmakers to the use of equipment from the Chinese networking giant.

“Given the significant security, privacy, and economic threats posed by Huawei, we strongly urge the United Kingdom to revisit its recent decision, take steps to mitigate the risks of Huawei, and work in close partnership with the US on such efforts going forward,” the senators said in the letter to members of the House of Commons.

The letter was signed by one fifth of the 100-member Senate, including Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s Democratic leader, Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner, the panel’s Democratic vice chairman, Reuters reported.

The latest letter comes after a bipartisan group of 42 members of the US House of Representatives sent a similar letter in January.

British decision

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in January this year had allowed Huawei to play a limited role in the deployment of 5G networks in the UK.

However, the UK designated Huawei as a “high risk vendor” and as such the Chinese firm will be excluded from core parts of the network including all safety critical networks.

Huawei will also be excluded from sensitive geographic locations such as nuclear sites and military bases; and have a 35 percent cap in periphery (non-sensitive parts) of the 5G network

The US had placed the UK and other allies under intense pressure to entirely ban Huawei from their networks on national security grounds.

But UK officials said they found “no smoking gun” in the last ditch evidence presented by US officials who had flown to the UK, prior to it making its final decision.

Managed risk

Huawei for its part has long denied it poses a threat, and Andrew Parker, head of MI5, and GCHQ has previously told ministers any security risk from Huawei could be managed, as long as the company is not operating at the core of the network.

The reality is that a lot of the major UK operators (Vodafone, EE and Three) had already purchased Huawei’s 5G infrastructure, which meant a ban would have more impact in the UK than the US.

Indeed, three of the UK’s largest wireless providers (EE, Vodafone, and Three) are all using Huawei to build their 5G networks.

The only exception to this is O2, which instead opted to use 5G equipment from Ericsson and Nokia.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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