Vodafone announces pause in use of Huawei equipment

2 mins read

The on-going controversy around Huawei continues with the news that Vodafone has decided to ‘pause’ using the company’s equipment in its core networks, at least until Western governments resolve security concerns around the Chinese company.

The Chinese telecoms manufacturer has come under growing scrutiny from a lengthening list of Western governments, who are concerned that the company is using its products for spying.

While Vodafone’s CEO, Nick Read, has suggested that the discussion around Huawei is ‘too simplistic’ he has decided to ‘pause’ the use of equipment used by the company.

Huawei responded by pointing to their long-term strategic relationship with Vodafone and said that it was, “focused on supporting Vodafone’s 5G network rollouts, of which the core is a small proportion.”

Huawei has a long relationship with the UK telecoms market that goes back many years, yet all that is now up in the air. The move by Vodafone comes despite a lack of any evidence to date, showing that Huawei is involved in espionage on the part of the Chinese government.

Work undertaken by GCHQ has found no back-doors into systems using equipment supplied by Huawei, although it did suggest that there were risks from poor engineering and that equipment could be vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

Last week I wrote a blog suggesting that a lot of the pressure being put on the company is being driven by the US, which is putting pressure on its allies as part of a more aggressive stance towards China - crucially it appears to many commentators that the US is determined to shut Huawei out of the burgeoning market for 5G equipment.

Australia has already acted against the Chinese firm and New Zealand is apparently considering a similar move. And Canada has been dragged into the argument as a result of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder.

Many UK operators are waiting on government guidance and most appear to want to be able to use Huawei equipment, even if that’s not in the core network. Why, because Huawei is up to five months ahead of the competition in terms of the quality of its equipment.

The problem for Huawei is that should the confrontation with a few Western countries escalate then the US, in particular, could use it's influence, power and reach to make life very difficult for the company.

While there is no evidence, as such, that suggests the company is involved in spying for the authorities the company lacks transparency and there is so little information, as to how the business operates, that it is very hard to give it what one expert said was, 'the benefit of the doubt' in this ongoing argument over technology and national security.