Thursday , June 24 2021

It's not a ban – Andrew Little offers hope for Huawei, but Spark is suspicious

The GCSB's assessment that Huawei's 5G technology represents "significant risks to national security" is not the same as a ban, said Andrew Little this morning.

Spark could still work with Huawei to deal with security risks, the GCSB minister said.

However, he was unclear how much detail about the secret security threat he could share with the telecoms.

In its first commentary on the controversy, Huawei also described events as an ongoing process.

Spark seemed suspicious whether Little's comments were a new hope.

"Of course, we would welcome any opportunity for the government to make a different decision," Insider told Spark Herald shortly after the GCSB minister gave his comments.

"That said, the fact that yesterday we felt the need for a market release we should give you an indication, based on what we know about the position of the GCSB, what we think they look like to change that decision."

Yesterday afternoon, Spark upgraded the government and GCSB by announcing the security agency's findings and saying it can not now use Huawei's equipment for its expected 5G upgrade to its mobile network.

"The Director General today informed Spark that he believes Spark's proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark's planned 5G RAN, if implemented, will raise significant risks to national security," Spark said.

"Under TICSA [The Telecommunications Interception Capability & Security Act], this means that Spark can not apply or make its proposal to use Huawei RAN equipment in its planned 5G network. "

"The role of the GCSB, at this moment in the process, is to assess when a teleconference wants access to the network to its networks in order to access it with the potential risks to national security," said Little.

"It's found in this case. That's what Spark notified yesterday.

"They [Spark] now have the ability to return and cooperate with the GCSB to see if it can mitigate the estimated risks … This is the next part of the process if they decide to do so. "

He declined little to say whether the assessment of the "significant risk to national security" was partly due to intelligence on Huawei's alleged role in espionage, but stressed that this was primarily a technical assessment.

Huawei said in a statement: "As GCSB stressed, this is a current process, we will actively deal with all issues and work together to find the way forward."

Huawei says it is a private company and not controlled by Beijing. New Zealand's Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Bowater, has repeatedly said for Herald that no evidence was ever proposed to Huawei, which constitutes a threat to security.

Huawei currently provides network equipment for Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees, as well as Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Some commentators claim that an invention against Huawei on 5G would mean that existing infrastructure will have to be thrown out – something Craig Young's actor Telecommunications user would say would be an expensive and unsuccessful process.

But Mali said it would not be necessary.

"Conventional [3G and 4G] technology has an infrastructure core, and then peripheral technologies, such as towers for mobile phones and the like, and they can – in fact – be separated, you can not do this with 5G technology, "he said.

Yesterday's development was followed by US pressure, revealed on Friday, to persuade allies to drop Huawei.

But Little said this morning that the GCSB had reached an independent decision.

"I can say with great confidence that there was no statement of the GCSB from Australia, from the United States, anywhere, about how to decide," he said.

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