Huawei: Jersey to ‘align’ its approach with the UK

JERSEY has been working with telecoms providers to ‘align’ its approach to Chinese telecoms company Huawei with that of the UK, the Economic Development Minister has said.

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This week the UK government announced it will stop purchasing from the Chinese firm by the end of the year and all equipment installed within its infrastructure will be removed by 2027.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden recently told the House of Commons that the UK could ‘no longer guarantee the safety’ of its deal with Huawei and said recent US sanctions on the Chinese firm represented ‘a significant material change’ that meant the UK had to change course.

Neither JT nor Airtel-Vodafone use Huawei equipment in their networks, but Sure used the firm’s technology in a trial of its high-speed 5G service, which is yet to be implemented. JT has, however, used equipment by another Chinese firm, ZTE.

Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, who has responsibility for telecoms policy, said Jersey was working closely with UK agencies on the new policy direction.

He said: ‘We have been in close contact with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and National Cyber Security Centre regarding the use of Huawei in telecommunications networks, as well as equipment from other high-risk vendors, so we were aware that the UK government announcement was imminent.

‘We have already been working with our own telecoms providers to align our approach in Jersey, and JT has publicly committed to the removal of ZTE, which is considered a high-risk vendor by the UK, from its existing network.’

He added that telecoms and digital security were of ‘utmost importance’ and that his officers were working on developing a telecoms security framework with Jersey and UK partners.

Graham Hughes, chief executive at Sure in Jersey, said the firm would work closely with the authorities on the development of its 5G network and still had not made a decision on a supplier and licences for it.

‘Sure’s 5G trial, which provided customers free access to the mobile service in Jersey, has proved that the technology has the potential to deliver faster broadband speeds,’ he said. ‘Throughout the trial, which incorporated Huawei’s 5G technology, we worked with the Government of Jersey, the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority and UK authorities to adhere to local, national and international policies and standards of application, safety and security. Sure’s decision on suppliers for 5G technology, and the process for the issuing of 5G licenses for local telecoms operators, has yet to commence.

‘As a provider of critical telecoms infrastructure in Jersey, we are working closely with the Government of Jersey on the digital aspect of building back better, which could involve fibre to the home and other technologies including 5G.’

A spokesman for JT confirmed that they did not use Huawei equipment but had decided to remove kit supplied by ZTE, another Chinese firm, from their network earlier this year.

He added: ‘While it’s clearly up to the government and regulators across the bailiwick to make a decision on any timing, and how closely they wish to be aligned with the UK on these matters, we see no issue with meeting the UK’s proposed schedule.’

Rohit Khullar, Airtel-Vodafone’s head of technical, said that the UK’s decision was ‘no surprise’ and that it would not affect their operation.

‘Airtel-Vodafone has always used Nokia as its core network infrastructure partner, and we are committed to using only tried, tested and trusted suppliers for any future technology roll-outs such as 5G. Therefore the ban has no impact on us.’

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