back to article Not going Huawei just yet: UK ministers reportedly rethinking pledge to kick Chinese firm out of telco networks by 2023

Cleansing Britain's phone networks of Huawei equipment by 2023 might not be possible, ministers are said to have realised after UK policy changes on the Chinese company in the last few weeks. The Times reports that government ministers now think an outright ban would be "impossible" and are instead mulling plans "to prohibit …

  1. jonha

    shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

    You just couldn't make this stuff up. Is this government or entertainment? :-/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

      If so it's a slasher flick rather than a comedy.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

      I think it must be entertainment.

      It's the new Hokey Cokey.

      You put your Huawei in,

      Your Huawei out,

      .....

      You get the idea - I dislike Black Lace - almost as much as the Birdie Song I was forced to 'dance to' at Sunday School socials....

    3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

      Remember Marconi?

      We had the best comms tech in the world. BT didn't want it cos Huawei was cheaper. It's capitalism 101.

      RIP Marconi, we hardly knew ye :'(

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

        Yes. Like so many of the UK's late lamented IT companies, Marconi had the technology smarts but lacked the business smarts. (Rule 1: Price your crap competitively, or nobody will buy it. Rule 2: Remember that you have no right to win business, you have to work at it.)

        Anyway, I'm glad some of the people in charge show some signs of intelligence in the face of the "security" lies from the NSA and other American sources.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

        ...and BT didn’t want to spend more money buying Marconi kit because British consumers tend to buy based on price alone. Having a network made of more expensive boxes than your competitors is a way to quickly lose all your customers.

      3. davcefai

        Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

        This reminds me of the Falklands war. The UK did not have a suitable rocket so it bought Exocets from France. (I think there may have been British investment there too). The Argentinians also bought Exocets. Some people made/saved lots of money by "outsourcing" vital industries. Others were killed by the consequences.

        At least at the moment we can choose Chinese or American kit. The Americans can probably not compete on the current playing field want want to be sole suppliers to the world.

        1. IneptAdept

          Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

          I would rather have Chinese kit in our network than american kit

          Because at no point have I heard of Cisco et al allowing us to rip their software and hardware apart like Huawei has

        2. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

          To be fair, having access to the same missiles as the enemy is quite handy as you know how its targeting works. The UK was developing its own anti-ship missiles* at the time, but unless you have an infinite budget you have to prioritise what you do.

          *Skua and Sea Eagle, the former being used in the conflict in a borderline pre-production state.

      4. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

        "Remember Marconi?"

        What Ericsson didn't want of Marconi is Telent today, what was it that Marconi had that BT did not want to have and when was that?.

        As you are apparently interested in industrial history, Marconi founded in 1897, when had "we" the best comms tech in the world.

        PS. I am sure Ericsson is hoping that what they bought doesn't go all RIP just yet.

        1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

          Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

          I worked for Plessey/GEC/Marconi for 30 years. Wind your fucking neck in with that shit attitude.

          1. Lars Silver badge

            Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

            First you write "RIP Marconi, we hardly knew ye", and then you tell us you worked for them for 30 years.

            So with your "inside" information what happened. Was it the Government, the Tory or Labour, foreigners like the Americans or the French, the Welsh ..

            You use the word attitude, what if the attitude of believing one to be the best in the world, and falling a sleep like after a good (insert word of your choice here) is the real reason to the more or less RIP Marconi in the UK.

    4. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

      You just couldn't make this stuff up. Is this government or entertainment?

      I cannot answer or deny as this is commercial-in-confidence, ole boy.

      I can, however, *cough*Yes, Minister (Huawei Special)*cough* say to move along.

    5. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

      "Yes Minister" was a documentary..

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

    Methinks that simple wise rethink averts a very revealing civil warrior revolution which previously well established traditional systems of operation and elite exclusive executive administration would fail miserably to contain and defeat.

    It is to be hoped they have learnt a valuable lesson ....and it will not be necessary to reinforce and strengthen with awesome punishments for the wilfully ignorant and arrogantly serially stupid and even stupendously evil.

    Just in case you don’t know it, things ain’t at all like they used to be ..... and you know that ain’t fake news.

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Re: Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

      Que?

      1. BenDwire Bronze badge

        Re: Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

        Andre, welcome. You must be new around here!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

          That's what I thought but he isn't.

    2. GraXXoR

      Re: Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

      Mars is still here. I have been away from the comments section for a few years. Happy to see Mars’s software is still churning out the word salads.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Deserved Future Dire AI States

        Mars is still here. I have been away from the comments section for a few years. Happy to see Mars’s software is still churning out the word salads. .... GraXXoR

        Now that you might be back, GraXXoR [4 posts • joined 9 May 2020] ...... how do you rate the word salads whenever compared to an OpenAI GPT-2 1558M model ....... which one can have some really weird fun producing with the engine chugging along here

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Invariably for many thick humans, a forlorn hope on the way to a deserved future dire state

        Mars is still here. I have been away from the comments section for a few years. Happy to see Mars’s software is still churning out the word salads. .... GraXXoR

        If you're not in, you cannot win win, GraXXoR ......... and it's the super duper natural and logical way to go whenever human intelligence fails with narratives following crashing and crushing programs. And of course it attracts all the usual global players and suspect objects interested in securing, if not an outright unassailable advantage, at least a leading bit part position ........ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/30/microsoft-sacks-journalists-to-replace-them-with-robots

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Stop

    Gang Aft Agley

    What started off as an anti Iran tactic with the arrest of their CFO morphed into a trade war tactic and has now morphed into a cold war and an election strategy thanks to the maskless wonder.

    Removing Huawei from the first world accomplishes nothing outside of satisfying Trump's demands. It will not make individuals, companies, or governments better, safer, or more secure, just more expensive. It has already made Huawei develop Google alternatives and China invest in chip making technologies and fab plants.

    If China develops the first COVID-19 vaccine, will Boris reject it because Trump will have his knickers in a twist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gang Aft Agley

      Worse here in Canada, arrested their CFO and daughter of owner at the USA's demand - then Trump puts tariffs on Canadian imports!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thailand vs America

      The US Ambassador is attacking Thailand's use of Emergency Powers to suppress Covid19. If you cannot be successful at something, try to tear down others success!

      Methinks the main complaint is it makes America look bad.

      They have the same 2% death rate the same as other countries like Korea (~2.2%), but with only 3000 cases though, there wasn't a lot of deaths.

      They acted professionally and let the Department for Disease Control run the show, and now they're opening everything up, safety and with confidence.

      Phase 3 starts June 1st. Zoos, Cinemas, meeting rooms, etc. open up. Inter-province travel will be fully open if they can secure the border province. The last thing to open are expected mid June (things like water parks, and bars).

      Phase 1 and 2 were successful. (malls markets restaurants)

      11 new cases yesterday, all among the repatriated quarantined returning Thais. 6 from Qatar, 4 from Kuwait, 1 from India. 9 cases the day before included 6 in quarantine from the USA.

      So abroad the plague rages, in the middle east and the USA.

      Boris knows that if he waits a day, the distraction will have to move to somewhere else. So all anyone has to do is go "yeh sure" to Trump's men, and then change their mind the next day when they've moved on to attacking something else.

      It's the nature of the distraction, it has to always be new and fresh and different. A new target each day to attack. New people to hate, new division lines drawn. The monkey distracts from the organ grinder.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thailand vs America

        It's the nature of the distraction, it has to always be new and fresh and different. A new target each day to attack. New people to hate, new division lines drawn. The monkey distracts from the organ grinder.

        Yup. That's also why he screwed up the Iran deal. The problem is that there is a natural end point to needing ever bigger drama to distract people, and it's war. And all his idiot supporters carry arms.

        I would not want to go near the US right now if someone paid me, and I find that very regrettable - there is a LOT of good that Trump & his evil friends have destroyed for (very) short term gain.

        Neither would I want any American to be allowed into a country without mandatory quarantine. As far as I'm concerned, the US have become a third world country under Trump.

        Annoyingly, when they greeted Trump with cannons the last time he came to the UK, they missed.

        /s

  4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Backdoors

    As the article says, no backdoors have been found in Huawei kit despite a lot of people looking.

    But just in case, maybe we should buy Cisco from the USA instead.

    Oh ... wait ... https://www.tomshardware.com/uk/news/cisco-backdoor-hardcoded-accounts-software,37480.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Backdoors

      @Cynic_999

      *

      .......and then there's the fact that Cisco equipment runs most of the internet TODAY, and has done so for the last thirty years. Never mind Huawei in the future, GCHQ and the NSA are snooping on ALL internet traffic today.

      *

      My problem is this: If Huawei is really a problem, why are we not ripping out all Cisco equipment today? Why are the politicos not developing local suppliers to replace BOTH Cisco and Huawei?

      *

      Answer to be found in Cheltenham!!!!!

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Backdoors

        Answer to be found in Cheltenham!!!!! ... Anonymous Coward

        Or not, as the case may be, AC.

      2. batfink Silver badge

        Re: Backdoors

        Careful AC - you might think you're A...

  5. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    At this point ...

    ... it might be easier to get the United States out of your systems. Perhaps not easier right now. But in the long run.

  6. Grikath

    Scepticism...

    This thing has doing the rounds for a bit now, but the whole Huawei Spai Thing™ is getting rather silly...

    Especially since any system Huawei may be able to incorporate in their gear to Spy On US runs into the same problem the also much-discussed Three-Letter wishlist item of a government-mandated backdoor into mobile devices in the Land of the Free... It simply doesn't work in the end.

    Whether Huawei would use a hardware, firmware, or software approach to accomplish a Phone Home service other than proper diagnostics, it would be found and probably cracked within months if not weeks. It'd simply be a matter of who, not when. Whether "Intelligence", White/Black/Grey Hats, (commercial) vulnerability research, or plain oldfashioned tech-savvy criminal organisations, there's too much glory and $$ to be had from cracking that system if it were actually there. Everybody + Dog that is remotely capable would be all over it.

    Yet we still have to see a single shred of credible evidence. And I doubt that Vulture Central would miss the chance to blow up the front page in extra bold capitals if there was, and they could nail an exclusive.

    And as yet.... nothing.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Scepticism...

      Of course, nothing. The truth is staring you in the eye : Cisco has no 5G gear, Huawei does. The USA cannot stand Capitalism if it is not the one benefiting from it, so anything goes to sink Huawei's influence.

      Unfortunately for Trump, economic reality trumps Trump's wishes. Money talks louder than partisan politics.

      And, as has been repeated for months now, if there were actually any basis in the allegations, someone would have posted a pic on Twitter by now.

      But nothing. On the other hand, the USA has enabled the Cloud Act, which authorizes their government to demand any data on anyone as long as it is hosted on a server managed by a US company.

      That is public information - no need for some nebulous motherboard chip that we've never seen.

      Draw your own conclusions.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Scepticism is Rife and Ripe in All Steps Gone Too Far in the Wrong Direction

        On the other hand, the USA has enabled the Cloud Act, which authorizes their government to demand any data on anyone as long as it is hosted on a server managed by a US company. ..... Pascal Monett

        Is that clumsy US enabled Cloud Act supposed to be accepted as legitimate when hosts on a server are anywhere foreign and/or everywhere alien?

        One can surely immediately see that that is a never ever going to be a physical reality or readily available virtual utility.

    2. ARGO

      Re: Scepticism...

      And if Huawei's only providing the radio nodes and antennas, what exactly would a backdoor achieve?

      All 5G traffic is encrypted through to core. Nobody can (yet) crack 5G encryption, let alone do it live.

      So that just leaves potential for disrupting the infrastructure. If that's the concern, perhaps look at how much UK infrastructure is directly owned by Chinese companies rather than just using equipment provided by one?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scepticism...

      If an operator bought an entire infrastructure from a single vendor, there’s a reasonable chance that the thing might as a whole contain some kind of back door. If you mix and match components though, I can’t really see how it could work. Whoever provides the element manager package and whoever provides the out of band management network would have to be in cahoots with Huawei too. If the activation key is a common command it would be triggered and spotted really quickly - especially across thousands of boxes - but if it was an obscure or illegal command the other components would trap it before it reached the target - and raise an alarm that mischief was afoot.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Scepticism...

        The risks are not quite that simple and multiple sourcing will only mitigate some risks, say at the base station level. When it comes to managing the network, it's a different issue. But the risk is probably still closer to the GPS one: disabling or disruption rather than mass surveillance. If you want to spy on people's communicatins it's far easier to do it if you can install something on their devices, or listening at the edge, which is what GCHQ is for.

        The Huawei spat is a mainly "made for Twitter" issue that portrays Trump fighting for American's freedom and trying to gain leverage in trade talks with China. However, seeing as most of America's consumer electronics and a great deal of other stuff is made in China, it's that not that convincing.

        If America is really worried about China working its way up the value chain, then it should start investing in the relevant areas. If companies spent less money on advertising and lobbying, they'd have more money for R&D.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, one would reasonably expect such strong demands to have been substantiated by now.

    Doesn't "because I say so" count?

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Only if you stomp your foot really hard as well.

  8. ColinPa

    Pot, Kettle, Black

    Going back 10 years, I heard from a Chinese colleague, that the Chinese were worried about back doors in any kit they got from outside China. Hence their policy of "buy Chinese". They also said that a foreign country was caught trying to install a backdoor into Chinese kit - but was caught.

    1. Klimt's Beast Would
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Pot, Kettle, Black

      A bit like this?

      Your hard drives were riddled with NSA spyware for years

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/17/kaspersky_labs_equation_group/

      --The US National Security Agency (NSA) infected hard disk firmware with spyware in a campaign valued as highly as Stuxnet that dates back at least 14 years and possibly up to two decades – all according to an analysis by Kaspersky Labs.--

      And this?

      Intel ME controller chip has secret kill switch

      Researchers find undocumented accommodation for government customers

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/29/intel_management_engine_can_be_disabled/

      --

      AMD's version is apparently called PSP:

      AMD’s Secure Processor Firmware Is Now Explorable Thanks to New Tool

      https://www.extremetech.com/computing/292722-amds-secure-processor-firmware-is-now-explorable-thanks-to-new-tool

      Black helicopter icon because they'll get you when they want to!

  9. Vin

    TLA backdoor

    Isn’t it possible that the US want to get Huawei banned from as many countries infrastructures as possible, not because they believe Huawei have any kind of backdoor, but rather, because any government who installs Huawei kit won’t have a US backdoor built in, which they could potentially achieve if the world is strong armed into buying US originated kit?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: TLA backdoor

      Yes, of course that is quite possible, Vin, and therefore most likely very probable.

      Have an upvote for your question.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TLA backdoor

      I suspect you've hit the nail firmly on the head.

      If the whole world goes Huawei, intelligence acquisition will go dark or at least dim considerably.

      Even more fun: if we were to assume, for a moment, that the Chinese have somehow managed to sneak backdoors past that veritable crowd of specialists whose job it is to dig out such (a scrutiny, I may add, US equipment has never been subjected to, nor has ever dared invite), it would put China in the position to share and sell intel, and thus bully the UK into collaboration in the same manner as the US has been doing for years with ECHELON et al.

      Speaking of which, I wonder what use ECHELON is these days.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: TLA backdoor

      Assuming there is some logic behind it (by no means a given) perhaps its an attempt to keep the US ahead of the competition in terms of actually having a functioning 5G infrastructure.

  10. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Glastonbury Town Council 5G Advisory Committee

    Pulling apart a £339 anti-5G USB stick

    And Emily Maitlis was pulled from Newsnight after criticising 5G. Sorry, Dominic Cummings. I keep getting them mixed up.

  11. Missing Semicolon
    Stop

    There is the issue of effective subsidy

    Do you really think that Huawei is the cheapest because they are the most efficient? Does the blatantly un-free trade aspect worry anybody?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: There is the issue of effective subsidy

      Does the blatantly un-free trade aspect worry anybody? .... Missing Semicolon

      Not at all whenever it is the default market norm in rigged non-competitive environments, Missing Semicolon, although that does introduce many other things to be worried about which cannot be/should not be seriously ignored or studiously avoided.

  12. eionmac

    Any foreign souced item can be useful against the buyer. Tarrifs once Brexit is 'in force'?

    I remember the problems where the UK was forced by others to abandon space rockets, UK economy and lack of investment in UK by committed UK 'cash investors' will always make UK vulnerable. Chasing 'interest rate' by UK savers from Iceland banks, who had no backing from UK (Manx registration was not an appropriate 'backstop') and general idea that UK folk and always buy cheapest without thinking stops UK investment and ability. UK wage levels in firms are not wanted by UK buyers. This problem was 'solved ' for years by tariffs , but Cornwall etc. made it big by smuggling.

    Will 'effective Brexit bring 'free trade and buy cheapest' or "tariffs and buy, design and make in UK"?

    Answers on a small post card please!

    Notable that Switzerland maintains an arms industry even though its home market is small.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any foreign souced item can be useful against the buyer. Tarrifs once Brexit is 'in force'?

      I'm not quite sure which way you're heading with this.

      I may not be sufficiently drunk yet, of course, but that's because it's not Friday. Maybe I'll get this late tomorrow :).

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