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back to article BoJo buckles: UK govt to cut Huawei 5G kit use 'to zero by 2023' after pressure from Tory MPs, Uncle Sam

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly agreed to a plan that will entirely cut Huawei equipment from the nation's 5G networks within the next three years. The word from Britain late on Friday, strategically via the Guardian and Telegraph, is that Johnson has caved after months of pressure from the backbench of his …

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

        China has been copying western tech for decades, it's the quick and obvious route to catch up.

        Ironically, that's how the US started too, to the point that companies deliberately based themselves on opposite ends of the US to protect themselves (in the days before good communication, stealing secrets was a tad more hands on) so it's rather hypocritical in that respect..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

      Living out of reach from the Chinese government, I'd say my data going to China is the best choice. They can't use it against me unless I go there. On to the other hand, if U{S|K} has my data via GAFAM that would be a dire prospect.

    2. Cynical user

      Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

      Huawei's radio kit is actually quite good. Are we now to spend the next few years ripping out perfectly good Huawei kit from our thousands of radio sites, and installing inferior Nokia/Ericsson kit instead? Sounds like it.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

        Unlikely to actually happen, as we know the Tory so-called government says a lot of things that never actually happens. Still waiting for CV19 tracing to actually start. It's just words. Empty words.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

          "we know the Tory so-called government says a lot of things that never actually happens"

          Corrected for your political bias.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

            Some many posts ago /\ up there somewhere, a guy was shot down for saying the Reg comments are becoming like the Guardian. Now a post that was removing left leaning political bias in favour of criticising all government is being downvoted... QED maybe?

            Just an observation as I have also tried to balance out the 'evil Tory' and 'commie Corbyn' posts. They are all as bad as each other - Labour would screw you over just the same as the Tories!

    3. Justthefacts

      Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

      Yes, it’s wrong.

      Because *the whole security design of 5G* (and 4G), divides it into Core Network and non-core. It’s not an arbitrary word distinction, it’s baked into the protocols. Only the Core Network gets to either “have your data”, or know who you are, or subtler things like traffic analysis. Huawei were specifically excluded from the Core Network kit.

      Don’t take my word for it, read CESG report (which you know as GCHQ) who have thoroughly analysed, including reading Huawei’s code, and instituting code-signing mechanisms. They came up with the plan for telecomm security encoded in U.K. policy, now being ignored by people trying to look good.

      And since our security services decided it was unsafe for more than 33% of kit to be placed with any one company, and now there are only two (Nokia and Ericsson), who is going to be responsible for the inevitable catastrophe of a Denial of Service breach taking down 50% of our infrastructure?

      In other news, you know that Trump wants to buy both Nokia and Ericsson right? He is in full strop mode that Finland and Sweden told him where to stick it, and has said officially (ie on Twatter), that if they don’t he will “ask Premier Putin to step in”.He has basically suggested Russia to invade a NATO countries to secure US ownership of global telecom infrastructure, and it’s *China* you’re worried about?

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

        Good start, but last I looked Sweden and Finland were not NATO members.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

          Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

          They are part of the NATO Response Force.

          1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

            Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

            But not actually NATO member countries.

            The NATO website shows them as partner nations (not members). The NATO website also shows Russia (amongst others) as a partner nation.

      2. ARGO

        Re: Is it wrong to be in favour of this?

        Indeed. I'll accept the proposed ban isn't political when one of the objecting backbenchers demonstrates how to break 5G encryption at the mast.

  1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

    I hope we invest and create our own infrastructure. I wonder if America will be laughing as much.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
      Happy

      I wonder if America will be laughing as much

      Don't be silly. The Yanks are too busy counting the cash to laugh.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      > I hope we invest and create our own infrastructure

      That ship has long sailed. There's little infrastructure presence in the UK from *any* major telco manufacturer, let alone a homegrown one

      1. lsces

        And we have already given ARM to the Chinese so little chance of developing the core components. America seems to be under the impression that IT is the only country that designs the integrated circuits we all rely on, but in reality the major producers are all in the far east. How much of Apple's product is produced in the US? Could they afford to build kit if China shut the door ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And we have already given ARM to the Chinese so little chance of developing the core components. "

          Poppycock.

        2. deive
          Facepalm

          ARM was * bought * by a * Japanese * company.

          https://www.ft.com/content/235b1af4-4c7f-11e6-8172-e39ecd3b86fc

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "ARM was * bought * by a * Japanese * company."

            I'm sure it's all the same to him, of course.

            But Softbank, while domiciled in Japan, are not entirely Japanese. Their Vision Fund rounds 1 and (probably not 2), in which Softbank is heavily invested, are substantially funded by others, most notably some totally-fun Gulf states. Masayoshi Son is in a spot of bother at the moment. WeWork and Uber are two big bets with the Vision Fund, both turning brown at pace. Softbank recently took a massive charge on their investment in VF, which lost around $18 billion this year.

            The VF owns (I believe) a quarter of ARM Holdings.

          2. Chris the bean counter

            The ARM staff and skills are still in UK which is the main thing

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Arm is a global company with development centres to match. Not just in the UK.

            2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              "The ARM staff and skills are still in UK which is the main thing"

              No, it's "a thing". Not the "main thing".

              Selling out the control of something very often results in a bad outcome for the original employees.

          3. Cederic Silver badge

            It was still a disappointment. The UK used to be a technology world leader. Now we're one of many, and if we keep selling our top companies overseas we won't even be that.

            Even without the current geopolitics and pandemic, the economy rather benefits from a strong local manufacturing base, particularly one with high value and demand.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "and if we keep selling our top companies overseas we won't even be that."

              You don't believe in free market capitalism and the buying and selling of companies? Communist.

              And you are fooling yourself if you thought the UK was ever that big a player. We certainly had a couple of top players but nothing more. And were never a big player in microelectronics manufacture. Because that takes massive longterm investment. Something the UK has not stomached since the early 70s. Which is why we are where we are. (With foreign investment needed to drive anything forward.)

              1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Agreed. UK had lots of very small respected niche brands (hifi etc), and some larger ones for domestic consumption (rarely seen outside UK). Very few world wide technology brands. The Japanese had that covered.

                1. Cederic Silver badge

                  Yeah, companies like Rolls Royce, de Havilland, Fairey, Bombardier, Westland, Jaguar, Leyland, Rover, Austin, Humber, English Electric, Sopwith, BSA didn't exist.

                  The UK didn't build an empire because of its manufacturing dominance, didn't populate the world's powerful navy with UK built ships, didn't invent television, telephony, major advances in steam engines, multiple automated manufacturing machines or some of the finest aircraft ever built.

                  Right.

                  1. gnasher729 Silver badge

                    If the companies you mentioned, only three are known outside the U.K., plus one (Leyland) as a joke.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    "Yeah, companies like Rolls Royce, de Havilland, Fairey, Bombardier, Westland, Jaguar, Leyland, Rover, Austin, Humber, English Electric, Sopwith, BSA didn't exist."

                    Seriously, you picked that list?! None of them in the microelectronics or semiconductor manufacturing sector. I can't see Sopwith raising the capital for a 5nm fab in the foreseable future.

                    You could have gone with: Inmos, BT Fulcrum, Plessey/Marconi etc. (All defunct too.)

                    Your list is from a long bygone era with the 2 survivors needing heavy investment from overseas. (Or needing to participate in heavy bribery.) That's the problem with Britain: it's all nostalgia, not investment. At least we can all keep dreaming about the Empire ...

                    1. Cederic Silver badge

                      Well, that was my original point. We used to be a world leader and now we're not, and selling off our few remaining strong companies will merely hasten the decline.

                      I think I disagree with you though regarding nostalgia. My point was very much focussed in the current times, and the things needed to maintain a strong economy.

                    2. DiViDeD

                      At least we can all keep dreaming about the Empire

                      Wouldn't be worth it. Hasn't been the same since it went over to Bingo.

                  3. foo_bar_baz
                    Boffin

                    Bombardier is Canadian

                    As you were

                    1. Cederic Silver badge

                      Re: Bombardier is Canadian

                      I can't even claim British influence as they're from Quebec. Bugger.

                      I was misled by their presence in Derby, sorry.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Apple can afford anything ...

          The issue for mega manufacturing is the number of people that need to be put on the ground in one place at ALL levels in the process, not just the drones. There are very good reasons why Foxcon exists that have to do with things other than money

      2. Jan 0 Silver badge

        It's time to relaunch it. Shouldn't a first world country be able to build its own infrastructure?

        1. Al fazed
          WTF?

          HS2

          "Shouldn't a first world country be able to build its own infrastructure?"

          1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

            Re: HS2

            Shame the company that makes rail wasn't deemed strategically important. The former British Steel, Scunthorpe - sold to Jingye group (a Chinese company) on 20 Mar 2020.

          2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: HS2

            "HS2"

            Good one! A vanity project. Massive cost relative to possible positive impact. Typical Tory delusions.

        2. JetSetJim Silver badge

          So you're proposing to start a new company to provide 5G infrastructure to the UK?

          In theory possible, but in practice very difficult. Build from scratch high availability platforms to host a myriad of s/w that will scale up to millions of subscribers without falling over? Good luck with that...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            So build it on top of what's already PD. Ericsson's OTP has been open source for decades and was designed specifically to scale to that order from the outset!

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              OK, so you have a s/w platform. You have no s/w to host the applications - from the OTP wiki page, it seems you still have to write your applications...

              There are some open source variants of the core network out there (e.g. Eurecom do OpenAirCN which includes all the bits for a CN, but I'm not sure if it scales that well - I've only played with it with single digit numbers of users), and you could buy a reliable server-based hardware platform to sit them on, but you have no USP, so will lose pretty much any RFx activity to the bigger players.

              Feel free to give it a go - I'll sit and cheer from the sidelines, but won't risk my money

          2. kiwimuso
            Joke

            @JetSetJim

            "Build from scratch high availability platforms to host a myriad of s/w that will scale up to millions of subscribers without falling over? Good luck with that..."

            It's quite simple. You buy Huawei products, as they are acknowledged to be the leaders, analyse the shit out of them (i.e. pinch the IP) improve of the sloppy coding, and voila! Success!!

            If you can't learn off successful companies, what else are you gonna do?

  2. steviebuk Silver badge

    Its OK...

    ...to carry on using Apple though, that are also made in Chinese factories. And lots of other China made kit. That radio you have in your office PM, is it made in China?

    Surely if they are all this paranoid its not far fetched to believe the Chinese government could stick bugs in any electronic kit made in factories in their country.

    1. Al fazed
      FAIL

      Re: Its OK...

      if they are all this paranoid its not far fetched to believe the *?* government/firm could stick bugs in any electronic kit made in factories in their country.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its OK...

        This is probably a good moment to remind everyone of the Cisco vuln in the secure boot loader that allowed any old code to be loaded. Silently. Unremovably. Undiscoverably.

        Only guaranteed remidiation: vulnerable kit (yes, all of it) -> doorstop.

    2. Chris the bean counter

      Re: Its OK...

      Twits who buy Apple have blood on their hands.

      Xi will carry on using concentration camps for Uyghurs, Killing Tibetans, threaten HK and Taiwan while he sees that Westerners care so little that they still buy Apple products.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Its OK...

        "Twits who buy Apple have blood on their hands."

        Glad to find out just now that Android phones are all made outside China.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: if they are all this paranoid

      They're not paranoid, they're just using that as an excuse to try and keep Huawei from dominating the market.

      You see, the US is all for capitalism as long as it is holding they keys. As soon as an actual competitor rises above its abilities, it's no holes barred to undermining said competitor by any means necessary.

      But I agree that Huawei, as a Chinese company, could very well be pressured by Beijing to reveal some sort of information at some point or another.

      However, we all know that Washington does pressure US companies and has even made a law allowing it to do so.

      So what I would like is a European initiative creating 5G infrastructure components that are not beholden either to the US or to China.

      Because if you want to be paranoid, you have to go all the way.

    4. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
      Devil

      Re: Its OK...

      You know that in every "Made in China" tag there are surveillance and tracking chips? (so tiny that you need an electronic microscope to see them)

      Just imagine all the information they gathered from the MAGA caps...

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Its OK...

        Or, conversely, think about how much time and money they wasted...

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    What a plonker. Couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery springs immediately to mind.

    Nice one, BoJo. Admiral Charles Fitzgerald, founder of the Order of the White Feather, will see you now.

    It does have one wondering about the mountainous piles of dirt with evidence of injudicious feather nesting which an Uncle Sam and an Almighty Blighty Secret Intelligence Service have/might have amassed on all Parliamentarians and the Conservative Cabinet Party over the years. Or is one to be led to believe that they are exempt from such necessary oversight, which very clearly would not be an intelligent thing to be doing whenever expected to be supplying secure protection against hostile state and non state actor vectors. Such would easily provide all manner of moles quite treasonous cover.

    That was a nice capture of Boris by Jennifer Arcuri though. Keeping things simple always works best for there be always less complications then in matters which can be extremely complex and potentially catastrophically damaging.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: What a plonker. Couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery springs immediately to mind.

      Of course, any of that only matters if it matters ... rather than it being generally accepted as quite normal and fully to be expected and just par for a right dodgy sub-prime course of classic oxymoronic actions/planned future event failures.

      Which imperious clowns/puppets/muppets do you like to continue to support with your vote and obsequious quiescence in the Great Hugely Big Soap Opera?

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