Last year, the country’s communications security bureau blocked local carrier Spark from using Huawei equipment in its 5G network deployment
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there is not yet an active ban on the use of Huawei’s gear in 5G networks, Bloomberg reported, despite a network operator that wants to use the vendor’s Radio Access Network equipment for 5G being stymied until it can address potential security concerns.
In November 2018, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) blocked local carrier Spark from using Huawei 5G equipment in the deployment of its 5G infrastructure, citing significant national security risks.
At that time, Spark said it had been notified by the Director-General of the GCSB, in accordance with the requirements of the Telecommunications Act 2013 (TICSA), that its proposed approach to implementing 5G technology on the Spark mobile network — using Huawei equipment — posed a national security risk. Local operators are required to notify the country’s spy agency of their planned deployments in the 5G field. Specifically, Spark’s proposal had involved the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G RAN.
Ardern said her government is working through a process to analyze potential risk associated with the use of Huawei equipment but added that the Chinese vendor could still be involved in 5G deployments in New Zealand — if Spark can satisfy the GCSB’s concerns.
“There’s been no final decision here yet,” Ardern told Newshub. “It is now currently with Spark to mitigate the concerns that have been raised. That is where the process sits.”
A Spark representative told Newshub the operator was holding discussions with GCSB: “We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal.”
Ardern’s announcement follows a report from the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre suggesting it is possible to mitigate the risks of using Huawei’s gear in 5G networks.
New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network along with the US, Australia, Canada and the UK. Ardern said that New Zealand will make its own independent decision on a potential ban after conducting its own assessment.
In August last year, Australian authorities announced a decision to prevent certain vendors from taking part in the rollout of 5G mobile networks across the country, effectively banning Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from involvement. Huawei said the decision by the Australian government to block the company from the country’s domestic 5G market was politically motivated and not the result of a fact-based decision-making process.