'Security risk': Huawei banned from New Zealand's 5G mobile network

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New Zealand's worldwide spy agency on Wednesday halted mobile company Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade, saying it posed a "significant network security risk".

The New Zealand bureau's decision means that Spark can not implement or give effect to its proposal to use Huawei equipment in its planned 5G network, the company said in a statement.

In New Zealand, Huawei has previously helped build mobile networks.

Spark says it is disappointed with the decision by New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau.

The GCSB's apparent move comes after reports earlier this week that the USA was pressuring allies to drop Huawei.

Earlier this year, neighboring Australia banned Huawei from supplying 5G equipment, also citing security risks.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed "serious concern", and said China-New Zealand business ties were mutually beneficial and win-win.

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The US administration has been trying to convince allied countries to avoid the use of technology from Huawei amid concerns that the world's largest telecom equipment maker could be using its equipment for cyber espionage as part of cooperation with Chinese intelligence agencies. "We hope New Zealand will provide a level-playing field for Chinese enterprises' operation there and do something conducive for mutual trust and co-operation". A statement from Spark said the company had not been able to review the reasoning behind the decision or to consider what further steps it will take, should it choose to. Earlier this year, it secured a 5G contract with United Kingdom mobile operator Three, which has previously relied on Nokia for 3G equipment and Samsung as a 4G supplier.

Bridges said that banning Huawei could have implications for quality and pricing in New Zealand's mobile sphere. Huawei has repeatedly denied that it represents a security risk.

For its part, Huawei sought to defuse the controversy by saying it would only bid to put gear on 5G cellsites (the RAN or Radio Area Network), not the "core" or brains of a 5G network.

The TICSA process could ultimately end with Little being required to make a decision on whether to approve the network, but Little said the process was "nowhere near that point at this stage".

Vodafone New Zealand Ltd. declined to comment about the matter.

In November, the United Kingdom government expressed security concerns about Huawei, even though early on, the United Kingdom had embraced the use of company's wireless, internet, and mobile services.

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