Thu, 23 May 2019
VODAFONE has said it will not be using Huawei technology in its 5G core network.
National cybersecurity concerns have been raised after leaks from the National Security Council revealed that Chinese company Huawei would have a limited role in creating Britain’s 5G network.
This is despite risks that the UK network could become susceptible to sabotage or espionage, owing to Huawei’s perceived links to the Chinese government.
Vodafone, which announced that it had switched on 5G testing in Newbury last month, told this newspaper that it would not be using Huawei or any Chinese supplier.
Spokesman Simon Gordon said: “We don’t use Huawei in the core network, which is the brain of the system and, in actual fact, all the kit we use is Ericsson in Newbury for 5G.”
The company also reassured customers over the safety of 5G technology.
5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks, offers faster connectivity and response times than the current 4G network.
It operates under a core network, which manages voice, data and internet connections and a radio access network, involving towers and masts.
The technology has already been used to make the UK’s first 3D holographic call in Newbury.
Mr Gordon said that Vodafone would not be using Huawei or any other Chinese vendor access to its core network, but would be utilising its technology in other areas.
He said: “That’s always been the case. We do a risk assessment on potential risk, there’s no evidence that anything untoward has happened.
“We conducted a risk assessment and chose not to use Huawei or other Chinese vendors in the core network.
“That’s based on conversations with the Government and our own risk assessment already in place before it became a matter of media interest.
“There’s no evidence produced by anyone to suggest they have done anything wrong.”
Huawei has strongly denied that it is controlled by the Chinese government and any risks of espionage.
CCS Insight mobile and wireless industry analyst Ben Wood, who lives in Newbury, said: “Like other networks in the UK, Vodafone has decided not to use Huawei’s equipment in its core network.
“This is the most sensitive part of the network from a security perspective because it is where calls and data are controlled.
“Although Vodafone has been trialling equipment from Chinese manufacturer Huawei for other parts of the network, such as the antennae, it appears that the company has now taken the decision to stick with Ericsson equipment for the launch in Newbury.
“Vodafone’s decision to use Ericsson equipment for its 5G network in Newbury is a safe bet, given the current controversy around Huawei’s network solutions, however Vodafone’s CTO [chief technology officer], Scott Petty had repeatedly stated that Huawei is an important player when it comes to 5G, so I expect Vodafone to use Huawei in many places.
“However, you certainly won’t see it in the sensitive core network.
“It is tremedously exciting that Newbury is going to be one of the first towns in the UK to have 5G coverage.
“It’s rare that you’d get the chance to try cutting-edge technology like this without going to a major city and I can’t wait for Vodafone to provide public access to the network.”
Mr Gordon added that 5G frequencies were covered by existing international and national exposure guidelines and regulations for radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).
"These international guidelines are based on extensive reviews of published scientific research, and apply in the same way to 5G as they do to existing 2G, 3G and 4G technologies and other radio-frequencies such as radio and TV transmissions," he said.