O2 confirms 5G tests will use Huawei kit

O2 has revealed that it will go ahead with using Huawei equipment in its 5G testing in spite of ongoing security concerns surrounding the Chinese firm.

The UK operator has confirmed that trials of its next-generation networks, set to take place in January, will utilise Huawei hardware at over 200 sites across London.

O2 says that the company is going ahead with its 5G trials in the capital, including efforts to make sure its networks are "5G ready" in preparation for a public launch.

"We are testing Huawei radio equipment before we deploy it on some of our cell sites in London. We do this with all vendors in order to drive optimum network for our customers," an O2 spokesman told the FT.

O2 5G tests

Several other UK operators, including EE and Vodafone, have already said they will also be carrying out 5G test using Huawei equipment. Three has also confirmed a £2bn deal with the firm to build its 5G network across the UK in preparation for a launch next year.

But O2's confirmation is the first since several high-profile rejections of the Chinese firm's equipment in recent weeks, including BT saying it would strip all Huawei hardware from its EE network earlier this month.

Huawei kit in the UK is subject to monitoring by a dedicated GCHQ unit, but the head of MI6 has recently suggested operators should consider the role of Chinese manufacturers in digital infrastructure due to concerns about state-sponsored surveillance.

The company has already 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.

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.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.