Huawei ‘looking into’ New Zealand 5G ban to find way forward
Huawei has responded to the refusal of New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to allow Spark to proceed with its Huawei-powered 5G network deployment, saying it is working on a way forward.
“Huawei is aware of Spark’s statement, and we are looking into the situation,” a Huawei spokesperson said.
“As the GCSB has noted, this is an ongoing process. We will actively address any concerns and work together to find a way forward.”
The Huawei spokesperson added that the Chinese tech giant’s equipment “is already being deployed by major carriers around the world”, after having signed 22 commercial 5G contracts. It said it has also supplied more than half of the 537 4G LTE networks across the world and 59 of the 90 4.5G networks.
“This alone is a testament to our position as a leading global supplier of 5G technology. Moving forward, we will continue to provide our customers with innovative and secure 5G solutions,” the Huawei spokesperson said.
According to the New Zealand government, the ban is related to technology concerns rather than fears about Chinese government control, and it is giving Spark the chance to make changes to mitigate security risks.
The Minister responsible for the GCSB Andrew Little told RNZ on Thursday that the government is concerned with the equipment.
“That’s all that is assessed,” he said, denying that Australia and the United States gave input during the GCSB’s decision-making process.
“It’s not about the country, it’s not even particularly about the company; it is about the technology that is proposed.”
His comments followed Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying the Chinese government hopes New Zealand “provides a fair competition environment for Chinese companies operating in New Zealand, and does more to benefit bilateral mutual trust and cooperation”.
New Zealand’s GCSB had on Wednesday told Spark that it cannot use Huawei’s technology to deploy its 5G network across the nation under its current proposal.
In a statement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Spark said it had notified the GCSB of its intention to use Huawei equipment in its 5G radio access network (RAN).
“The director-general has informed Spark today that he considers Spark’s proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks,” Spark said.
“This means Spark cannot implement or give effect to its proposal to use Huawei RAN equipment in its planned 5G network.”
“Spark has not yet had an opportunity to review the detailed reasoning behind the director-general’s decision. Following our review, Spark will consider what further steps, if any, it will take.”
GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton said the decision was made under the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Act (TICSA).
“I can confirm the GCSB under its TICSA responsibilities has recently undertaken an assessment of a notification from Spark. I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified,” Hampton said.
“As there is an ongoing regulatory process, I will not be commenting further at this stage. The GCSB treats all notifications it receives as commercially sensitive.”
Spark called the decision disappointing, but said it will not affect its plans to launch 5G by July 1, 2020.
The decision comes just a week after Spark and Huawei showcased a trial 5G network in Auckland, emphasising the separation of core and edge.