Two member nations of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – New Zealand and Canada – are reportedly resisting pressure to follow the lead of fellow members the US and Australia and automatically ban Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE from participating in their nation's 5G rollouts.
The minister in charge of New Zealand's Government Communications Security BureautoldNew Zealand Reseller News that the nation plans to develop its own independent telecoms security policy rather than automatically adopting Australia's policy of banning the Chinese vendors from providing 5G technology to local operators.
New Zealand officials are currently evaluating whether the existing security policy covering telecoms networks is fit for purpose, or whether - as Australia has asserted – the technical characteristics of 5G require a new policy.
Huawei has been significantly involved in 4G rollouts in both Australia and New Zealand. But in August, the Australian government announced that Chinese vendors would be prohibited from providing technology for 5G rollouts, citing national security concerns, but presenting no evidence that these concerns are justified.
The government said that 5G will require a network architecture that is significantly different to previous mobile generations because it will blur the line between the core and edge networks, and that the new architecture could be exploited to circumvent traditional security controls.
Meanwhile the Canadian government revealed in September that despite facing pressure from the US, it sees no need to ban Huawei from participating in the 5G rollouts due to the robust cybersecurity safeguards in place in Canada.
The company has a system of testing facilities for Huawei equipment, and an advanced relationship with the nation's operators focused on strengthening the security of telecoms networks, according to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.
Huawei is already restricted from bidding on government contracts or providing equipment for operators' core networks, according to the Globe and Mail.
The bans imposed in Australia and the US are widely believed to be motivated by politics rather than any technical considerations. The main objection appears to be with Chinese government policies requiring companies to collaborate with the government on national intelligence work, and to keep their first loyalties with China rather than their customers.