Raising concerns over national security, the New Zealand’s intelligence agency refused allowing the use of 5G equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd as requested by the country’s telecom industry.
The reasoning offered by the agency would be reviewed before further steps are taken by it, said New Zealand’s telecommunications services provider Spark New Zealand Ltd.
This decision is in line with similar sentiments earlier expressed by some Western countries who have increasingly become weary of the Chinese company because of allegations of the involvement in the fifth-generation mobile and other communications networks by the Chinese government. Huawei has however refuted he charges on multiple occasions.
Huawei was also prevented from supplying 5G equipment earlier this year by the Australian government over similar security reasons. There was a report published in the Wall Street Journal last week which claimed that companies in its allied countries were being persuaded by the US government not to use equipment from Huawei.
“I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified,” Government Communications Security Bureau Director-General Andrew Hampton said separately on Wednesday.
In order mitigate the security risk, Spark and the agency could work together, Intelligence services minister Andrew Little told news agency Reuters. Spark is the first telecom company to make a proposal for the country’s first 5G application.
Huawei said in a statement that it will “actively address any concerns and work together to find a way forward.” The company added that over 20 5G contracts with carriers worldwide have been signed by it.
“Serious concern” was expressed by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing.
“We hope the New Zealand government provides a fair competition environment for Chinese companies operating in New Zealand, and does more to benefit bilateral mutual trust and cooperation,” he told a daily news briefing.
Huawei is set to invest about NZ$400 million ($271.88 million) into research and development in New Zealand and has been working in the country in other telecommunications systems such as its 4G mobile network.
According to Little, telecom and security legislation guides each of the decisions that are made and each decision related to telecom technology is made separately.
“The difference between 5G networks and conventional 4G and 3G networks is the configuration of the technology,” Little said. “With 5G technology, every component of the 5G network means every part of the network can be accessed.”
These were very similar to the concerns that had been earlier expressed by Australia in relation to 5G where it had said that it was hard to restrain vendors who are believed to be high risk for the less sensitive parts of a network.
Spark rival 2degrees said it had noted the decision and was “seeking clarity on it”.
“The importance of multiple vendors to deliver price competitiveness still stands, so if this announcement has a similar impact on 2degrees it will be a real disappointment for competition,” 2degrees corporate affairs chief Mathew Bolland told the media.
(Adapted from Fortune.com)