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Chinese tech giant Huawei will be excluded from providing technology for the core 5G network being developed by U.K. telecoms firm BT.

In an email sent to CNBC, a BT spokesperson confirmed the process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of its 3G and 4G networks began in 2016. They said this was done as a “part of network architecture principles in place since 2006.”

“We’re applying these same principles to our current RFP (Request for Proposal) for 5G core infrastructure,” the spokesperson explained. “As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner.”

EE is currently trialing 5G mobile internet in London’s Canary Wharf.

A Huawei spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

National security concerns

A BT spokesperson told CNBC over the phone that the decision was not a response to any security concerns.

However, the U.K.’s spy chief said on Monday that questions remained over Chinese firms’ access to 5G networks.

“We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies,” MI6 chief Alex Younger told students at St Andrews University in Scotland.

The U.K. – along with Canada – is one of two nations in the Five Eyes security alliance not to ban Chinese telecoms firms from their 5G rollouts.

Last week, the New Zealand government excluded Huawei as a technology vendor for its 5G network, citing a “significant network security risk.”

Fellow members Australia and the U.S. have also banned Chinese tech firms Huawei – and ZTE in the U.S. – from their 5G networks over fears it could make national infrastructure accessible to the Chinese government.

Both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly denied these claims. Chinese smartphone manufacturers are subject to legislation that requires citizens and businesses to cooperate with Chinese intelligence authorities.

However, Huawei has previously stated that the Chinese government cannot legally compel telecoms firms to install backdoors or listening devices in other nations.

Eric Xu, one of the rotating chairmen at Huawei, told CNBC on Thursday that blocking Huawei from the 5G market could result in higher costs for both consumers and telecoms firms.


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