Telecoms companies told to consider security of 5G infrastructure

12 November 2018

The government has warned telecoms companies the outcome of an ongoing security review may force them to reconsider their 5G infrastructure supply chains.

A letter to companies, sent by the head of digital policy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the “outcome of the review may lead to changes in the current rules”, the Financial Times reported.

The warning has been seen as aimed towards the Chinese firm Huawei, one of the main suppliers of 5G technology, though the firm was not mentioned by name, the FT said.

Huawei, as well as the Chinese firm ZTE, are both dominant players in the 5G technology. Both have been plagued by concerns the Chinese government could force them to provide access to their systems.

The two suppliers have already been banned from supplying critical 5G infrastructure in Australia.

DCMS has confirmed to SM it sent the letters, but said the review was not a about a particular country or provider.

The review is part of the government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, being conducted by DCMS alongside the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), and is looking at the UK’s 5G supply chain to ensure the right frameworks are in place to create a resilient and secure telecoms network.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review set out our long-term plans to provide world class digital connectivity through full fibre connectivity and 5G mobile coverage.

“As part of this, we are conducting a review of the supply chain underpinning those ambitions to ensure a healthy, diverse and secure supply base, now and into the future.”

Earlier in the year NCSC wrote to UK telecoms companies warning them the use of ZTE technologies could pose a national security risk, and the US commerce department introduced a seven-year ban on consumer sales of the firm’s devices.

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