back to article Huawei's UK tech eviction reportedly caused Sky to fall on mobile customers

UK government orders to remove Huawei equipment from Britain's 5G networks have reportedly led to outages for customers of Sky Mobile. Last year, the government issued formal legal notices to telecoms operators instructing them to expunge Huawei technology from the country's 5G networks by the end of 2027. This followed a …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Don't keep repeating a lie

    We all know that the 'national security' explanation for the need to remove Huawei kit is 100% bogus. There's an old notion that 'if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it' so repeating this lie gives it credibility.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

      Maybe it is a lie but it's the only explanation I've heard. If you know more please explain.

      1. Yorick Hunt Silver badge

        Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

        NSA: "We want back doors."

        Cisco: "Sure thing, boss!"

        Nokia: "I don't like it, but OK..."

        Huawei: "GTFO!"

        ... and the rest is history.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

          GTFO, our backdoors are for the Chinese secret police and organisations approved by the CCP, of which the NSA is not one.

          1. Peshman

            Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

            ...but unlike CISCO there were no backdoors to be found. They even provided all of the firmware code to prove as much. However, you keep trying to persuade yourself of the lie that you're perpetuating to prove the original point.

            I'm happy to be proved wrong if you can provide a link to ANY evidence for your claim.

            I'll wait. I will probably die of old age first though.

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge

              Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

              Do they have the facility for "OTA" firmware updates?

              If so, then they have the facility to install a backdoor..

              1. IGotOut Silver badge

                Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                "Do they have the facility for "OTA" firmware updates?"

                If you allow access to your internal core network to OTA updates, you have much, much bigger issues to worry about.

            2. Justthefacts Silver badge

              Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

              Wouldn’t matter if there *were* backdoors. The kit Huawei provide is non-Core Network.

              Due to the security architecture, it only sees encrypted data on the way through, and no key material. Even endpoint identities are not known, so traffic analysis is impossible. There’s literally no leverage compared to an on-air sniffer, and in many senses *less* leverage. With Co-ordinate Multipoint, you need the data from at least two such Boxen, time-synchronised to the nanosecond, to reconstruct even the encrypted datastream. When it’s available together “for free”, correctly synchronised and phased, on-air.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                FALSE.

                Huawei provides Core Network gear and their own Lawful Interception platforms too.

                That's the crucial point. The point that the US have made to the UK and German authorities in December 2019 is that Huawei has preserved its ability to eavesdrop on these interfaces.

                That's JUST THE FACTS

                1. Yes Me Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                  Yes, the US has frequently told lies throughout this saga. This is another one.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                Eh? H sold a *lot* of RAN gear in the UK, and also a bunch of core gear. That’s (one of the reasons) “they” got all het up about EE getting the ESN gig! ;) H sold MMEs and HLRs to at least one large UK operator I know of. Guess where the SIM encryption keys live?…

                1. Justthefacts Silver badge

                  Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                  Huawei can sell as much RAN for 5G, I don’t see the reason to care.

                  MME and HLR (or ePC more generally) I definitely do care about, and it’s news to me. MNOs were explicitly instructed not to, as far back as 2016, so I don’t know why they chose to flout the advice. I still can’t see how replacing a few HLRs is going to cause major hardship or the billions being complained about - that’s not where the cost is.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                    Imagine cost had something to do with their decision ;)

                    Tbh UK gov supported operators buying H kit. That might not have been intentional tbf, but the HCSEC helped private enterprise effectively shift some risk to UK Gov and take the cost savings (I.e. profits). They were never gonna turn that down! If it went to **** they’d just say “but NCSC said it was fine!!1!”.

                    Sadly it’s not as simple as replacing a network element with one from another vendor. Sure, they both use the same protocols on the user and control planes, but management? Lol. You ain’t managing an H element with a Nokia management system (or vice versa). Fragmenting your network makes it more difficult (expensive) to operate.

                    For what it’s worth, I’d accept H RAN gear, I’d be less happy about H core gear, but both?! I’d urge people to think again. Just my own opinion tho.

                    1. Justthefacts Silver badge

                      Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                      Actually more security of supply. There are effectively only 3 RAN manufacturers: Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei. You need to minimise single-source risk on critical infrastructure.

                      Normal critical infrastructure legislation requires no more than 33% from any one manufacturer, which implies….three manufacturers minimum. Remove Huawei, and you cannot logically comply to the resiliency legislation.

                      It’s really worse than that. The government doesn’t / can’t micromanage every procurement to balance the numbers globally. Plus there are engineering constraints (management complexity). So, with only two manufacturers it’s difficult to get closer to equal than 60/40. This means that one of Nokia or Ericsson will automatically run two-thirds of U.K. total mobile network capability, which is catastrophically single-sourced IMHO. We *need* three manufacturers on the RAN side, and full duplication on two manufacturers in the Core Network.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                        Sorry but all that rant is WRONG again.

                        There are more RAN manufacturers. Very big ones:

                        - ZTE (now global RAN leader)

                        - Samsung with notable footprint in the USA (like Verizon and AT&T) and Korea of course.

                        Add to these smaller players such as Affirmed and Mavenir.

                        Plus now the hypercloud provider such as AWS, sourcing their own hardware from smaller American players. See DISH in the USA.

                        JUST THE FACTS

                        1. Justthefacts Silver badge

                          Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                          Rant? If you are refusing Huawei *RAN* for geopolitics reasons, you are hardly going to allow ZTE, so that’s not an option. Given that ZTE is literally half-state owned by China, while Huawei is a private corp. Not my view, I’ve said I think the geopolitics argument for RANs is stupid, but if you accept it, then not-ZTE.

                          Samsung, I will give you. Behind the curve technically, but you could do it. And maybe indeed *must* do it if you exclude Huawei RAN.

                          Affirmed and Mavenir….yeah well if you want go with the OpenRAN kidz, that’s fine. Maybe it’s the time, at some point it will be, and I would argue that’s the only good reason for operators to adopt 5G at all. I’ve heard the radios are actually surprisingly good. But I would be really dubious whether proprietary items like radio scheduling and MIMO selection algorithms etc are up to the mark in the first wave of O-RANs. There’s two decades of history, proprietary development and patents those guys don’t have. Losing tens of % air-interface efficiency on real (non-standardised) scenarios is going to cost you way more, than cheaper O-RAN can possibly save you. And do they really have the depth of interop testing? But sure, if you’ve done your homework in trials and are happy with them, have a punt!

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

                            Thanks for admitting your earlier omissions. OpenRAN is catching up, technically and in market share. Their main issue is that of mobility, for architectural reasons. That's why they're doing well in dedicated networks, where mobility is not an issue and xApps/rApps can be tailored to specific needs. That's giving OpenRAN players some commercial breathing space to carry on improving.

                            So, don't discount them yet.

        2. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

          Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

          Which means that private equity and hedge funds from Wall Street and The City cannot get their hooks into it

          1. apdxb

            Re: Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

            >>> "Employee Owned Corporation "

            Is this a joke?

            Huawei is privately-held with a lot of governmental subsidies. Huawei is not in a position to refuse anything to the CCP. Assuming it would even give it a thought.

            "Using a unique dataset of CVs, this paper analyzes the relationship between key Huawei personnel and the Chinese state security services. Based upon an analysis of this dataset, I find there is strong evidence that Huawei personnel act at the direction of Chinese state intelligence, and that there exists a deep and lasting relationship between Huawei, its employees, and the Chinese state."

            https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3415726

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

              Funny thing is before the sanctions there were a lot more non Chinese main landers owning shares in Huawei. Since they have been getting kicked out of a lot of the western countries that means not only did their investment in those countries dry up, but so did the local branch offices and therefore local jobs.

              Its the same thing with being hostile to Chinese students, all it means is that they will stop coming over to the hostile counties to study. Not only will it reduce the income (overseas students fees are crazy), but also it means that it reduces the exposure of western culture to next gen of educated Chinese.

              In regards to governmental subsidies everyone does it, chip act, vaccine funding ring a bell? The real question is what will they do with it? Will they inflate their stock? Will they pay a few people a big bonus, or hopefully will they invest in R&D and in the majority of the employees? Employee only share holders whilst not perfect is much better than companies that can be derailed by big hedge funds who have no idea how that company functions as a business. Disney is a great example of this.

              Did you know there is something known as the warrant canary? This is a thing and should give a clue that again no company is safe, so any communication equipment should be treated as potentially hostile and therefore vetted. Defensive practices should be put into place such as reviewing source code, and more importantly traffic should be encrypted (e2ee) with meta data secured, you know that thing that our governments are desperately trying to ban!

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

                You are misinformed in several respects.

                1/ Huawei is a global company. In non mainland China branches, the vast majority of employees are non Chinese.

                Moreover, Huawei local branches have NOT been kicked out. They just have less business.

                FDI from Huawei is negligible in national balance sheets.

                2/ You can trust the elite of the CCP to carry on sending their little emperors offspring in the USA. That hasn't stop, rather that increased.

                These kids don't feel like "leeks" and don't contemplate the perspective of going back to mainland China as a blessing.

                The CCP elite also stash their money in investments abroad. Did you check the Yuan offshore to USD rate recently?

                Whereas a lot of Han Chinese were returning to mainland China a decade ago, this is not the case anymore.

                Maybe Jack Ma can comment on this.

                3/ Vaccine funding was more successful during the Wuhan lab-leak event of 2020-2022 in Western countries than in mainland China.

                Covid stopped in these countries one year before it stopped in China. Remember the end of 2022?

                4/ Huawei are using perfectly legal Lawful Interception software that every telecom equipment vendor has to provide for their espionage activities.

                No need for code vetting. The code is not the issue. The issue is who is allowed to use the lawful Interception nodes.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

                  You can kick someone out by restricting business. Why keep an office opened if there is no business? Futurewei is a good example of this.

          2. Yes Me Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Also, Huawei is an Employee Owned Corporation

            Actually, the "shares" given to Huawei employees are not voting shares. But then, when did you last hear of (say) Cisco disobeying a strong request from (say) the NSA because of shareholder objections? None of this is about government control; it's all about companies with powerful lobbyists in Washington DC hating that Huawei products are cheaper.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

        >Maybe it is a lie but it's the only explanation I've heard. If you know more please explain.

        I've got one explanation that's as good as any. Due to a number of factors Huawei found itself not only at least two years ahead of the pack with 5G but the highest volume smartphone supplier. In other words, it had not just overtaken legacy competitors but was accelerating out of sight. This competition was getting too intense so measures were needed to hold it back to give others a chance to catch up or overtake it. The "national security" was just waffle for the 'rubes, a bit of FUD because as we all know proving a negative is impossible, you just keep stacking those "what ifs?" and you can prove anything.

        I've been grumbling about this because its not going to solve anything for the competitors, in fact its likely to make things worse. Huawei was kicking butt playing the 'global corporation' game, sourcing parts from wherever to make their products. Our actions have forced them -- and similar companies -- to focus effort into replacing the products that we used to supply them. Our rationale for this is that they can't possibly do what we can because, well, they're Chinese and they talk funny or something. Experience and common sense suggests that a) they will replace the missing supply chain sooner or later and b) they'll start selling it into markets that we currently own (not our home market, of course -- we've got laws to fix that -- but think about this 'rest of the world').

        (How do I know the 'national security' thing is bogus? We're engineers, right? We're supposed to know this stuff? Some of us have even worked in the biz.......)

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Devil

          Wow, where's the popcorn icon when you need one?

          There are so many shills, stooges and counter-stooges in this thread, it's quite entertaining

      3. Grogan Silver badge

        Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

        It's more to stop China's economic might... that's a threat to the U.S. Same reason they are embargoing them on chip manufacture. The U.S. "Let them get too strong"

        Trump: "They'd have never become such an economic threat if I was president" (not an exact quote but the pontificating arsehole said something like that recently)

        1. Grogan Silver badge

          Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

          Who was caught backdooring equipment for "lawful intercept" at the behest of the U.S.? Cisco... and it harmed their credibility. I won't even so much as buy a consumer Linksys device, because they own that company. Fuck them (and the U.S.)

          I would actually trust Chinese people more than Americans, who are career liars.

          1. James R Grinter

            Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

            Belkin acquired Linksys off Cisco back in 2013.

            https://www.theregister.com/2013/01/25/belkin_buys_linksys/

    2. apdxb

      EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

      This is even standardised by 3GPP/ETSI, ITU and many others and allows to gather evidences of wrongdoings (criminal, terrorism, etc).

      These LI appliances are supposed to be operated by law enforcement bodies ONLY.

      What the US disclosed in 2020 is that Huawei had been using these LI softwares for espionage purpose without the knowledge of the operators (let alone national law enforcement bodies) from at least 2009 onwards.

      This is, by the way, mandated officially in the 2014 National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China.

      So the question is not whether there ARE backdoors. Because there ARE. Any telecom professional knows that.

      The question is who uses them under what legal framework.

      Arguing there are NO backdoors is pointless.

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

        This is rubbish. Lawful Intercept only exists in the Core Network. The West has *never* bought any Core Network boxes from Huawei. Huawei provide only Radio Access Nodes, and eNodeB. The boxes that Huawei provide see only encrypted data, and even the boxes have no access to keys. That’s just not the way the network architecture works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

          Wow so many "inaccuracies" in a single post.

          First of all, lawful interception Points of Interception (PoIs) don't only reside in the core but also in the IMS (VoLTE) and the UDM (Unified Data Management = subscribers database).

          Second, Huawei have installed their core in MANY European Telecom Operators. British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile NL, KPN to name just a few.

          Claiming that Huawei has never sold any core in the West is very ill-informed (at best) and has zero plausibility.

          Well known Huawei customers in Europe include Altice, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Telefonica, TIM, and Vodafone

          Everybody can check it out, it's in the news. Specialized telecom news and mainstream media.

          1. Justthefacts Silver badge

            Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

            Errrr…..you seem to be very confused about the network architecture.

            The UDM is clearly part of Core Network. And IMS, is either PDN Gateway, which is beyond the Serving Gateway (the definition of Core Network), or IMS which is arguably not part of the LTE network at all. But either way, definitely not Access Network. The point is, entities which provide Radio Access Network units, have no Legal Intercept capability, or indeed any non-legal intercept theoretical access.

            If you’re saying “many European telecom operators have put Huawei elements in the core”, then I’m more than surprised, because it’s *literally written into the 3GPP spec* that there are security domains, what those domains are there for. And that as an operator you are *expected and required* to take the advice of your national security service, as to which companies may provide CN functions. And several of the companies you quote (Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone), were the ones who stood up in 3GPP meetings and made submissions to embed that wording into the spec.

            But, irrespective, all MNOs should have been doing as their national security services advised. In the U.K., this decision is made by CESG (part of GCHQ), and was passed down to all MNOs back in 2016. I cannot *for one moment believe* that CESG would have accepted that BT Legal Intercept capability was provided on a Huawei box. Because they own access to that interface, it’s not something far off in the distance, they have to sign off every single installation. If “it’s in the news”, you should have no problem providing a link to something that actually says that.

            I think you’ve just really misunderstood the network details. Yes “Huawei customers in Europe include Altice, DT, etc”. But unless somebody *violated the law* (which I can’t say), nothing with Legal Intercept on it. If you’re saying you have direct knowledge, as part of an MNO, that they have installed any Core Network boxes with Legal Intercept capability, which have not been individually signed off by CESG, then you are in possession of knowledge of *criminal* act. Not civil. This isn’t about company policy or the actions of a manager, this puts you as an accessory. You need to whistleblow. There is a simple anonymous link to do so, and if you don’t that’s on you.

            https://www.mi5.gov.uk/contact-us

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

              I'm not confused.

              I'm a professional.

              UDM can be sourced from different vendors than the real core.

              Especially because UDMs span all the 'G's from 2G to 5G and cores are usually from different vendors (like CS from one vendor, EPC from a second one and 5G core from a third)..

              I know who my customers are and why they swap THEIR HUAWEI PACKET CORE out.

              I know by heart the 3GPP 33.136, 33.127 and 33.128 standards. And these Lawful Interception software have to be maintained. So vendors DO have access to these.

              I hereby repeat: HUAWEI have sold a LOT of EPC Core network in Europe. This contradicts categorically your initial wrong statements "eNodeB only".

              Now about the part, about CESG, I don't think this can be disclosed in this forum. Smarter people than us do their job.

              Please acknowledge that your qualification of my previous contribution as "rubbish" was unjustified and that you were lacking the correct information.

              Regards

              1. Justthefacts Silver badge

                Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

                “UDM can be sourced from different vendors than the real core.” I don’t know what you mean by this. But UDM is Core Network.

                “I know who my customers are and why they swap THEIR HUAWEI PACKET CORE out.” In other words, it would not be legally approved (in the U.K.) to *deploy* a UDM Core Network element, with Legal Intercept capability, from Huawei. I think what you are saying, is that Huawei sell multiple functionalities bundled; the operator buys it like that, and it’s then up to operator legal requirements to swap out the parts of concern with an approved solution. Possibly, I have no idea about that.

                The only thing I care about, is whether Huawei ePC is *deployed* with vendor-controlled Legal Intercept *in the U.K.* Do you have direct info that it is? Then, that is illegal, irrespective of any company policies or decisions. You know the channels you have to inform or otherwise become an accessory. That’s the law.

                IDGAF about Europe, they can do what they like.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: EVERY vendor has to provide Lawful Interception software. BY LAW.

        "What the US disclosed in 2020" was pure invention, a.k.a. a lie.

    3. jgarbo

      Re: Don't keep repeating a lie

      Simply the UK lapdog following its master's orders. Looks like it's back to the old red phone box, chaps...

  2. Tron Silver badge

    £2bn?

    Nationalism isn't free. Wave a flag, sing the national anthem and cheerfully pay more tax to cover this. Those are your orders for today, loyal citizens.

    Wait until the EU EV duties kick in, fossil use is limited and the US extend their China blocks. The Brexit-initiated inflation 'benefit' we have all been enjoying was just a prelude. The Gold Standard for this sort of thing is North Korea's policy of Juche (self sufficiency). That is what our glorious leaders are aiming for. Large corporates get free money towards building this new economic Jerusalem. Everyone else has to man up and suffer. Crap services are part of the suffering. Not just patchy mobile services. By next year, many more of the UK's local councils will only be funding legally binding essentials. If it can't be turned into an app it will vanish. Plus limited rail, limited flights and extra driving costs and restrictions. Plus a load of other stuff, but I don't want to depress anyone. We'll leave the rest as a surprise. Everyone likes surprises.

    1. Lurko

      Re: £2bn?

      "Nationalism isn't free. Wave a flag, sing the national anthem and cheerfully pay more tax to cover this. Those are your orders for today, loyal citizens."

      It generally isn't, but simply importing yet more from China has its limits, and we are now finding out that exporting all our jobs and pollution simply results in a huge balance of payments problem, that in turn does no good to your FX rate and make inflation more likely in the current situation, that pressures interest rates up and the government deficit up, so less for services and more for lenders. The British government (of all colours) turned its back on British manufacturing a couple of decades ago, and it's not had a good outcome, unless an economy based on coffee shops, charity shops, mobile and vape retailers is anyone's idea of a good thing. There's still some good work going on - the UK's exports of "stuff" are still surprisingly high value, but we've been on a slippery slope for a while now, with people who don't understand anything insisting there's comparative advantage by not making stuff here, and then paying another country to make it for us.

      I doubt that in the Huawei case the alternative kit has any UK content, but you started making the point about global trade.

  3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    At least the stuff is apparently secure enough that big councils are happily installing Huawei infrastructure ...

    1. gforce

      Those that are not or in the process of going bankrupt. Uk governance, now there's the joke.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Something, Something, Security!

    We are getting steadily closer to the point where governments are mere puppets of the multi-national corporations.

    Something that was 'predicted' in numerous science fiction stories from the past.

    1. usbac Silver badge

      Re: Something, Something, Security!

      Getting closer? I thought we are already there...

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Something, Something, Security!

      1929 called. They want you to know the robber barons never left.

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