U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that critics of Chinese vendor Huawei must come up with alternative providers to supply equipment for 5G networks, as the U.S. government increased the pressure for a ban on the Chinese vendor.

During an interview with BBC News, Johnson said that he would not support any infrastructure which would compromise the country’s ability to cooperate with its Five Eyes security allies (Canada; the U.S.; New Zealand; and Australia), but said he was committed to ensuring the U.K. had “access to the best possible technology”.

“We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. Now if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what’s the alternative,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s comments come after a U.S. delegation visited the U.K. earlier this week to present the government with evidence outlining security risks associated with the deployment of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. Washington believes that Huawei is used by the Chinese government for spying purposes — allegations which Huawei has denied.

BBC News reported the U.S. officials warned it would be “madness” to use Huawei technology in the U.K.’s 5G networks.

The U.K. government is expected to reach a final decision regarding the use of Huawei equipment in non-core parts of 5G networks in the coming weeks.

In an emailed statement to RCR Wireless News, Huawei VP Victor Zhang said that the company was confident that the U.K. authorities will finally approve the use of Huawei equipment in 5G deployments.

“We strongly agree with the Prime Minister that the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. That is why we invested more than $15 billion last year in research and development to ensure our customers receive just that. Huawei has worked with the U.K.’s telecoms companies for 15 years and looks forward to supplying the best technologies that help companies like BT and Vodafone fulfil the government’s commitment to make gigabit broadband available to all.”

“We are confident that the U.K. Government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations. Two U.K. parliamentary committees concluded there is no technical reason to ban us from supplying 5G equipment and this week the head of MI5 said, there is no reason to think the U.K.’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the U.S. ‘would be harmed if Britain continued to use Huawei technology,” the executive added.

The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) previously concluded that the country has the tools to mitigate the potential risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.

Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, the U.K. signals intelligence agency, has previously said that NCSC had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense.”

According to previous press reports, local carriers are currently deploying solutions from Huawei in the “non-core” parts of their networks. However, the imminent government decision could impact carriers if the government bans the Chinese company from any participation in the deployment of 5G networks.

According to a previous report by consultancy firm Assembly, a partial-to-full restriction on Huawei could result in an 18-to-24-month delay to the widespread availability of 5G in the U.K.


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