British officials have formally recommended letting Huawei participate in certain portions of the country's 5G networks, instead of an outright ban, sources told us news outlets Thursday.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said, however, that work on the matter was "ongoing". According to the report, the USA government wants to increase this limit to 90 percent, essentially making it harder for Huawei to use American products.
The US has been apprehended the United Kingdom and other allies to freeze Huawei out completely from their 5G networks for well over a year, but the previous month saw a new push from Washington officials to acquire the United Kingdom onside. Vodafone did not respond to requests for comment.
The decision comes despite repeated warnings over allowing Huawei to contribute hardware and software to national infrastructure projects, not least from the United States whose intelligence community believes that the company is a state-controlled entity, and that its equipment could be used for cyber espionage on an enormous scale.
A secret technical assessment prepared past year by Britain's National Cyber Security Center, which is part of GCHQ and runs a center that tests Huawei equipment, reportedly concluded that the risks of using Huawei as part of the national 5G rollout, especially for non-core parts of the network, can be minimized if the process is appropriately managed (see: Report: UK Believes Risk of Using Huawei Is Manageable).
US President Trump has long urged Washington's European and other allies to cut ties with the company, and even blacklisted entities that deal with Huawei back home, arguing that Huawei was allegedly a threat to national security. Some have warned that excluding Huawei could come at high cost, and could delay Britain's 5G rollouts by years.
But several key issues are weighing in favor of allowing Huawei to take a role in the less sensitive elements of the emerging 5G networks - though not in the most security critical "core".
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"There are other providers but they are limited".
Huawei is the world's leading manufacturer of 5G devices.
The 5G networks will build on these existing structures, so wireless networks can cope with soaring data traffic and enable connected cars and factories.
"The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology", Johnson told the BBC last week.
Brexit day is now set for January 31.
While Huawei equipment is largely absent from major US networks, United Kingdom operators including BT and Vodafone previously used the vendor's gear, and have pushed back against a total ban.