NZ’s Spark banned from using Huawei 5G equipment

Decision won’t affect 5G rollout timeline, Spark says

New Zealand telco Spark has been banned from using equipment manufactured by Huawei as part of its 5G rollout.

Spark said today that it had received notice from the director-general of the Government Communications Security Bureau that the use of Huawei gear in the Radio Access Network (RAN) portion of the telco’s planned 5G rollout would “raise significant national security risks”.

Under the provisions of the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA) Spark said it is not able to proceed with its plan to use RAN equipment manufactured by the Chinese company.

“Spark has not yet had an opportunity to review the detailed reasoning behind the Director-General’s decision,” the company said. “Following our review, Spark will consider what further steps, if any, it will take.”

Spark said that it was disappointed by the decision but confident that it would not affect the telco’s plan to launch a 5G network by 1 July 2020 (subject to spectrum for 5G services being made available by the government).

Spark has used Huawei-made gear in its 3G and 4G rollouts.

Earlier this month chief executive Simon Moutter told the company’s AGM that Spark had found “Huawei to be a very good mobile RAN provider for Spark”

“They’re a world leader in mobile technology, they’re very responsive to our requirements and have provided good commercial value,” the Spark CEO said.

“We would hope that our government would not preclude them from being considered without incontrovertible evidence their technology presents security risks that the comprehensive security management tools we employ in our networks cannot mitigate,” Moutter said.

Australia’s telcos have also been barred from using Huawei equipment for 5G, with the government employing the provisions of the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform (TSSR) legislation.

Huawei in August said that it and fellow Chinese telecoms vendor ZTE had been banned from participating in the rollout of Australian 5G networks.

A government statement issued at the time didn’t mention either company but said that Canberra had provided security guidance to telecommunications carriers following “an extensive review of the national security risks to 5G networks”.

In October, Mike Burgess, the head of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), said that the decision to stop telcos from using “high-risk vendors” to source equipment for 5G was “not taken lightly”.

“In consultation with operators and vendors, we worked hard this year to see if there were ways to protect our 5G networks if high-risk vendor equipment was present anywhere in these networks,” the ASD director-general said in a speech.

“At the end of this process, my advice was to exclude high-risk vendors from the entirety of evolving 5G networks.”

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Tags NetworkingTelecommunicationsNew ZealandHuaweinational securityNZ Government5GsparkSpark NZ

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