Tuesday, 14 August 2018 11:42

UK, Canada lobbying Australia not to exclude Huawei Featured


The UK and Canada are understood to be lobbying Australia not to ban Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei from playing a role in building 5G networks Down Under, iTWire has learnt.

This came to light a day after a report that said Huawei was likely to be allowed to play a role in 5G in Australia, but would face curbs on provision of equipment for what are deemed sensitive parts of the networks.

Sources told iTWire that the two countries, both members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance which also includes the US and New Zealand, were lobbying Canberra to give the Chinese company a role, because a ban would put pressure on them to justify sticking with Huawei.

Both Canada and the UK have arrangements in place to examine all equipment supplied by Huawei.

The Chinese firm has a cyber security centre in the UK alongside members of the Government Communications Headquarters, the intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence and information assurance.

The Huawei unit is known as The Cell and monitors threats and backdoors in its own hardware, with the researchers being overseen by the NCSC.

In May, Huawei announced a promise of procurement with the UK worth £3 billion during a meeting in Beijing between the company's chairperson, Sun Yafang, and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

In Canada, the government does its own monitoring of Huawei's equipment and the company has conducted trial runs for 5G technology in rural communities along with Bell Canada.

And in March 2017, the Ontario Government said it would focus on 5G technology at the Chinese company’s Canada Research Centre in Kanata. In December, Huawei included Carleton University in its 5G research.

The sources indicated that a similar arrangement to what exists in the UK or Canada would be put in place to alleviate any suspicions that have been raised about Huawei.

The company itself has pushed for setting up a security assurance centre in Australia.

If peace of mind is achieved by keeping Huawei out of what are deemed to be core areas of the network, then that should not be a problem, as a research paper produced by Huawei points out.

"There is a clear standardised interface and separation between Core Network and Radio Access Network across the whole transition of deployments and in a final 5G standalone environment," the paper, written by Dr David Soldani, Dr Malcolm Shore and Jeremy Mitchell, says.

And it adds: "The 3GPP 5G System design follows requirements from various organisations. The most prominent input is perhaps the NGMN 5G Whitepaper, which provides functional design and migration considerations from a network operator perspective.

"As in previous 3GPP systems, the 5G Access-Core Network boundary has been set out in the 3GPP global standards with a clear functional split and offers globally accepted principles. This enables the adoption of different business models, and the utilisation of RAN equipment from one vendor and core elements from other network infrastructure providers, as it is currently in 4G networks in Australia."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce a decision on Huawei sometime before the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform law takes effect on 18 September.

Huawei was banned from bidding for contracts for Australia's national broadband network, the NBN, in 2012.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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