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Huawei's UK 5G future under question

Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

UK’s health secretary has said Huawei must meet certain conditions if it wants to continue to be involved in the country’s rollout of 5G networks, following news that the company could be barred from doing so.

Some publications reported the UK is poised to end the use of Huawei technology as soon as this year amid security concerns.

In May, the Trump administration tightened sanctions against the tech giant over fears of close ties to the Chinese state.

Stricter rules around Huawei’s ability to buy semiconductor chips from firms which use US technology in their manufacturing led the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre to carry out a review assessing the impact this could have on the UK’s networks.

Reports now suggest GCHQ has reassessed the risks posed by the Chinese tech giant and in a study set to be presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week will declare that sanctions will force Huawei to use technology that is “untrusted.”

READ MORE: UK asks telecom providers to stockpile Huawei gear

Reports also said officials are working on proposals to prevent new Huawei equipment being installed in the 5G network in as little as six months.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not deny that the government is set to do a U-turn on Huawei’s involvement, adding that he “wouldn’t comment on leaks of that kind”.

Speaking on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday, Hancock said: “What I can say though, is that when we came out with an interim report on this earlier in the year, there were a number of conditions that needed to be met.

“So I’m sure that the National Security Council will look at those conditions and make the right decision on this to make sure that we have both a very strong telecoms infrastructure… but also that it is secure.

“We have been looking very closely at this.”

Last month, UK officials wrote to the country’s mobile operators, asking them to ensure they have plenty of Huawei equipment as they fear US sanctions could disrupt the Chinese company’s ability to maintain supplies.

Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations that its equipment could be used to spy on people and governments in the West.

It has also said it is committed to bringing better internet connections to all parts of the UK.

The firm is planning to build a huge facility in the UK, where it will conduct research in fields including photonics and data communications.

READ MORE: Huawei expected to get approval for UK R&D centre