Published:  03:13 PM, 28 June 2019

Nokia warns UK over using rival Huawei's 5G kit

Nokia warns UK over using rival Huawei's 5G kit

One of Huawei's biggest rivals - Nokia - has said the UK should be wary of using the Chinese firm's equipment, reports BBC.

The Finnish company said Huawei's telecoms kit had vulnerabilities that meant it posed a risk to 5G networks.

Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson are competing with Huawei to sell next-generation telecoms equipment.

Huawei is seen as leading the race in many markets, but the US is putting pressure on allies, including the UK, to bar the firm over security fears.

Nokia's chief technology officer Marcus Weldon said the pressure from the US was serving as a counterbalance to unfair financial advantages that Huawei had enjoyed in the past.

"It's fairness returning to the market," he told the BBC.

"We were disadvantaged in the past relative to the practices that the Chinese were allowed to have in terms of funding mechanisms."

Huawei has denied that its equipment poses a security risk.

"These comments are misleading," said a spokesman.

"We believe secure, resilient networks can only be delivered by collaboration across the whole industry, working to common standards on privacy protection and cyber-security, so that all participants can be judged equally.

"We have a proven track record of delivering secure, trustworthy and high quality products to every major telecoms operator in Europe. Cyber-security remains Huawei's top priority and here, in the UK, we are subject to the most rigorous oversight compared to any competitors in our sector."

Mr Weldon said Nokia's equipment was "a safer bet" for mobile operators. He pointed to a new report from US security firm Finite State, which detailed vulnerabilities in Huawei enterprise networking equipment.

"In virtually all categories we studied," the report said, "we found Huawei devices to be less secure than comparable devices from other vendors."

In the UK, Huawei equipment has been subject to close scrutiny by a unit staffed by GCHQ. It has produced reports severely critical of the security of some software, although it has not found backdoors in the firm's products.

"We read those reports and we think OK, we're doing a much better job than they are," said Mr Weldon. He conceded that Nokia's equipment was not subject to the same checks in the UK as Huawei, but said it did face scrutiny around the world.

He said Huawei's failings were serious: "Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven't patched things, they haven't upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don't."

The UK government has been conducting a review into the security of the telecoms supply chain, and has been under pressure from the United States to ban Huawei from any involvement in 5G.

Mr Weldon said the government needed to take this issue very seriously as 5G would play a vital role in key infrastructure.

"That means being wary of adding Chinese vendors into network infrastructure, as long as these security vulnerabilities are either provably there or likely to be there based on past practices," he added.

He said Huawei represented a risk relative to Nokia and Ericsson.

It was reported in April that the prime minister had decided that, while the Chinese firm should not be allowed into the heart of 5G networks, it would not be banned completely. Downing Street has insisted that a final decision has yet to be made

UK mobile operators are beginning to roll out 5G networks and are all using some Huawei equipment. They have warned that a ban on the Chinese firm would mean a lengthy delay in the 5G rollout and added costs due to a lack of competition.

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