Think Carefully Who You Pair With for 5G, UK Tells Networks

By Holly Brockwell on at

Two UK bodies have written to phone networks and other telecoms firms to warn them to think carefully about who they choose to team up with for 5G infrastructure.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the increasingly elaborately-named Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport sent the letter to the big players in the mobile industry, and while it doesn't go so far as to name them specifically, it's believed that it's mostly referring to Huawei.

There have been repeated security concerns raised about Huawei equipment, notably when the Chinese firm was in talks to supply signal on the Underground before the 2012 Olympics, at which point former Newark MP Patrick Newark OBE reportedly said, "I wonder when the eyes of the world are upon us, whether there is sense in using a Chinese firm to install a sensitive mobile network... In the event of a terrorist attack, putting a mobile network on the Underground would be extremely helpful, but it absolutely answers a terrorist’s prayers – to be able to detonate devices on the Underground."

However, that wasn't the reason Huawei wasn't chosen to go through with the work – they just couldn't reach a deal with TfL, apparently.

The letter sent to mobile operators refers to a UK-wide infrastructure review that kicked off in July, and may see Huawei relegated in terms of preferred UK suppliers. The company has already been shelved in the US and Australia due to security concerns, and the UK's cybersecurity bodies have previously stated that there might be similar issues here.

The aim of the letter to networks is apparently to make sure "critical national infrastructure remains resilient and secure," and while it stops short of actually giving any recommendations for doing that, it's an interesting heads-up of where the DCMS and NCSC seem to think the industry is going. [Financial Times]