The Czech Republic has become the latest nation to voice its concerns about the use of Huawei equipment in its telecoms infrastructure.
The Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA) has warned operators in the country to avoid using kit from Huawei (and compatriot ZTE) because of national security concerns.
It said its warning was the result of its own findings and those of its allies.
Huawei Czech Republic
“China’s laws ... require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat,” said Dusan Navratil, director of the NCISA.
Huawei has effectively been frozen out of the US market, although it does provide equipment to a number of smaller players in the country, while Australia has banned its operators from using Huawei equipment in their 5G rollouts on national security grounds. It has also been reported that the US is urging its allies to take similar actions.
The main basis for these fears is a perception that Huawei is linked to the Chinese government and that the use of the company’s equipment risks the possibility of backdoors that could be used for espionage. These fears are heightened by 5G because of the sensitive information these networks will carry.
Huawei has repeatedly denied such accusations, pointing out that it works with security agencies around the world and that it sells products to more than 500 operators in 170 countries without issue. This includes the UK, where BT, EE, Vodafone and Three are all customers.
The company has once again denied these latest allegations in the Czech Republic.
“We categorically deny any suggestion that we pose a threat to national security,” a spokesperson told Reuters. We call for NCISA to provide evidence instead of tarnishing Huawei’s reputation without any proof.
“There are no laws or regulations in China to compel Huawei, or any other company, to install ‘mandatory back doors’,” he said, a reference to U.S. warnings that Huawei’s network gear could contain ‘back doors’ that would allow Chinese spies to hack into critical network infrastructure.”
Huawei supplies all of the major operators in the Czech Republic, including T-Mobile, whose parent Deutsche Telekom is reportedly considering removing Huawei kit from its networks around the world in order to gain US approval for the merger with Sprint.
Some better news for Huawei is a declaration by German authorities that Huawei kit is no less secure than equipment from any other major vendor and that the company was innocent until proven guilty.
Huawei also reported a slight increase in the number of 5G contracts it has agreed. It now has 25 agreements around the world, up from 22 in November.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.