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Huawei Security Concerns Front and Center as West Seeks 5G Alternatives

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), is urging the British Parliament to reconsider its decision to allow Chinas Huawei a role in UK 5G telecommunications networks amid a slew of security concerns.

Nearly two dozen lawmakers called on the United Kingdom to work closely with the United States and to take steps to mitigate the risks posed by Huawei, including that the regime in Beijing requires its companies to share its information with the Chinese Communist Partys intelligence sector.

“Given the significant security, privacy, and economic threats posed by Huawei, we strongly urge the United Kingdom to revisit its recent decision,” they wrote in the letter, addressed to the House of Commons, on March 3.

There have been a number of recent hearings regarding Chinas influence in 5G networks and “big tech” companies. The letter was sent ahead of a UK parliamentary debate on March 4 about Huaweis involvement in Britains 5G network, while on the same day, a U.S. Senate subcommittee met about 5G supply chain security, and a Senate panel heard testimony about the relationship between “Big Tech and Beijing.”

Experts told The Epoch Times that recent talk about propping up Huawei competitors Nokia and Ericsson appears to be an increasingly viable option, saying 5G technology in the United States is highly vulnerable. They emphasized the need to implement security protocols and equipment from trusted vendors, saying it could be disastrous if the right action isnt taken.

In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Huawei will supply up to 35 percent of the countrys 5G communications infrastructure.

U.S. lawmakers said in the letter that, while banning Huawei from “core” 5G infrastructure could address some security risks, it would be “very challenging, if not impossible, to separate core equipment from that considered to be on the periphery.”

Washington has repeatedly stated that Huawei—founded in 1987 by a former Peoples Liberation Army engineer—is an extension of the Chinese regime and that it assists Chinese intelligence in stealing secrets.

Huawei, which denies the assertion, didnt immediately respond to a request by the Epoch Times for comment.

5G Security and Huawei Competitors

“The unfortunate reality is that our networks have already been comprised by foreign adversaries,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said at a March 4 hearing.

“We are seeing more reports that Huawei can covertly access mobile phone networks around the world,” he said in his opening remarks. “At the same time, some of our close allies are granting Huawei access to their communication systems. These are troubling developments.

“The absence of a viable and affordable American or European alternative for end-to-end telecommunications components … has enabled Huawei to increase its global influence,” he added.

Multiple U.S. officials have emphasized the importance of finding an alternative to Chinas Huawei and of developing potential partnerships with the telecom industry. Attorney General William Barr suggested recently that the United States and its allies should “actively consider” the possibility of backing Huaweis two main overseas competitors, Nokia and Ericsson.

During the same hearing, ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) described a recent attack on a power system that was brought down for more than 12 hours.

“Its no longer just people searching around and looking at our power plants,” she said. “Now, actors are starting to bring what is essential services to a halt.”

High-level Nokia and Ericsson executives made the case in testimony that their technology is vastly more trustworthy than Huawei, which is currently the worlds biggest producer of telecom equipment. Britain has argued that excluding Huawei would have delayed its 5G rollout and cost consumers more.

Jason Boswell, head of security for network product solutions at Ericsson, testified that the company is leading the way on the 5G rollout, noting that they have deployed “65 percent of the 5G deployments in the U.S., including in rural America.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Jason Boswell, Ericssons head of security for network product solutions, at a Senate hearing on 5G technology in Washington on March 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Boswell said, “we need increased midband spectrum availability,” enabled by a robust market of trusted supplies and that the United States “needs to focus on developing a skilled 5G workforce.” In his testimony, he said the company just announced its first 5G equipment from its new $100 million smartphone factory in Texas.

He said that the company, since 2018, has executed a “supply chain regionalization strategy to place manufacturing and development as close to the customer as possible in order to reduce risks.” Boswell said that would also reduce regional disruptions and overdependence on one supplier or vendor.

“All of our software is scanned, verified, signed, and distributed in and from Sweden. That actually gives us a lot of tight control over our software development lifecycle and the traceability of that supply chain,” he said.

Mike Murphy, chief technology officer for the Americas at Nokia, testified that its “incorrect to suggest non-Chinese vendors cannot lead in 5G,” noting that the United States was the first country in the world to launch 5G networks. Of the U.S. equipment Nokia provides, none is manufactured in China, he added.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Mike Murphy, Nokias chief technology officer for the Americas, at a Senate hearing on 5G technology in Washington on March 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei has grown with the help of $75 billion in state subsidies from the Chinese government, allowing the company to undercut many competitors on price.

“Chinas made aggressive use of its development bank to support indigenous suppliers. Payment terms offered, while legal, are unavailable to competitors through commercial banks,” Murphy said.

The root of the problem is the Chinese Communist Party, said James Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during testimony.

“5G is a symptom of a larger problem. We face a powerful opponent who is using espionage and predatory economic practices, including exploiting American patents, to gain advantage,” he said, referring to China.

Lewis said that the United States is currently positioned to take the lead over China in 5G.

“American and Chinese deployments are roughly equivalent, with 57 cities in China that have 5G, as opposed to 50 in the U.S.” he said.

Last week, Congress approved a $1 billion bill also known as “rip and replace” that would replace any equipment made by Huawei or ZTE used by rural telecom carriers in the United States. President Donald Trump still needs to sign the legislation, dubbed the “Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.” Administration officials have signaled their support for it, according to reports.

The bipartisan legislation would also remove any Huawei and ZTE equipment in networks currently used by a number of smaller U.S. carriers. The carriers had purchased the equipment years ago because of the low cost.

The United States, in 2018, banned Huawei technology from use by the government or any of its contractors, and in 2019, the company was addedRead More – Source

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