New Zealand Blocks Huawei 5G Roll-out over “Significant National Security Risks”

November 28, 2018, 10:22 AM UTC

Huawei is having a hard time convincing people that it doesn’t help Chinese spies to snoop on private communications.

On Wednesday, the New Zealand telco Spark said the country’s intelligence services had banned it from using Huawei equipment in its new “5G” network — the fifth generation of mobile communications is on the horizon in many countries, promising improvements in mobile broadband capacity and coverage.

New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) told Spark that the use of Huawei’s 5G equipment would “raise significant national security risks,” the telco said, adding that it was disappointed by the decision but would still roll out its 5G network by mid-2020.

Australia also banned Huawei equipment from its planned 5G networks earlier this year. Meanwhile, the U.S., which is part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing agreement with New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the U.K., has recently been lobbying various allies to avoid the company’s wares, due to the security risks.

Such shunning is no small matter, as Huawei is now the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment manufacturer. The company has been the subject of intense scrutiny for many years, however, due to its perceived ties to the Chinese state.

The vendor told the Sydney Morning Herald that it remains “committed to developing trusted and secure solutions for our customers.”

“Huawei’s 5G equipment is already being deployed by major carriers around the world, with whom we have signed more than 20 commercial 5G contracts,” it added.

Spark — one of New Zealand’s largest mobile operators — said it had not yet had time to parse the GCSB’s reasoning for the blockage, and once it had done so it would “consider what further steps, if any, it will take.”