New Zealand’s largest telecoms carrier Spark has confirmed that the country’s intelligence agency had barred it from using equipment provided by China’s Huawei in its 5G network as it posed “significant national security risks”.
The move follows reports the United States is urging its allies to exclude the Chinese telecoms giant from 5G rollouts over cybersecurity fears.
According to reports by Computer World, Spark said that it had received notice from the director-general of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Andrew Hampton that the use of Huawei gear in the Radio Access Network (RAN) portion of the telco’s planned 5G rollout would “raise significant national security risks”.
The firm called the decision “disappointing” and said it would decide its next action after examining the detailed reasoning behind Hampton’s conclusion. It still expected to complete its 5G network by July 2020.
Hampton confirmed Spark’s announcement in a brief statement.
“The GCSB under its (legislative) responsibilities, has recently undertaken an assessment of a notification from Spark. I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified,” he said.
Huawei one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers — has been under scrutiny in some countries, including the United States and Australia, over its alleged close links to Beijing authorities.
China has long disputed accusations of security risks and links to the Chinese state intelligence services.
New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which also includes the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia.
China is one of its main trading partners but Wellington has become increasingly concerned about Beijing’s influence in the Pacific recently.
In response, New Zealand has boosted its Pacific aid programme to reinforce its presence in a region it considers its own sphere of influence.