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BT scraps Huawei's equipment from core mobile networks amid security concerns

"Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner," BT said
BT has long used Huawei's equipment within its fixed-line network

BT Group PLC (LON:BT) has confirmed that it will strip out Huawei's equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile networks following security concerns.

The telecoms giant will also not use Huawei’s equipment for the core of its 5G service when it is rolled out in the UK..

READ: BT Group tops FTSE 100 gainers as Goldman Sachs ups rating to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’

However, it still plans to use the Chinese company's phone mast antennas and other products that are not considered to be at the heart of its mobile networks

The announcement comes after the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission issued a report saying the Chinese government could force technology firms like Huawei to modify products to fail or perform at below expectations, facilitate espionage or compromise US federal and private sector networks. 

The report suggested software supply chain attacks could become more commonplace when 5G wireless networks are rolled out.

Australia and New Zealand have blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for their 5G mobile network and on Monday, MI6 boss Alex Younger raised questions over Chinese technology companies being involved in the UK's communications infrastructure.

Huawei denies ties to Chinese government

Huawei has denied having any ties to the Chinese government beyond paying its taxes but critics have pointed out that the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a former engineer in the country's army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.

BT has used Huawei's equipment within its fixed-line network since signing a pioneering contract in 2005.

But a year later, BT introduced an internal policy that restricted the use of Huawei's equipment to the "periphery" of its infrastructure, the BBC reported. 

BT bought mobile phone operator EE, which had been using Huawei’s equipment, in 2016. However, BT began removing the equipment it determined to be at the or core of the EE network shortly after the acquisition.

While this process has been going on for the past two years, BT has not publicly disclosed the information until now.

BT says Huawei remains an important equipment provider 'outside the core network'

"In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006," said a spokesman for BT, according to the BBC.

"We're applying these same principles to our current RFP [request-for-proposal bid requests] for 5G core infrastructure.”

"As a result, Huawei has not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner."

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May 09 2019

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