Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is confident that the government will grant approval for it to form part of the UK’s 5G network, if it remains committed to an “evidence-based” approach to the issue.
Sky News understands the company believes it has answered security concerns over its technology, and that any decision to block them from the UK market would be purely political.
In a statement, Huawei welcomed comments from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which he appeared to distance himself from US claims that it would be “madness” to allow the telecoms provider to supply equipment to UK networks.
An American delegation, led by the deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, travelled to the UK on Monday to lobby officials against allowing Huawei equipment into the emerging 5G network.
US sources said the delegation had passed on fresh intelligence that indicated it would be harder to mitigate any security risks, but did not disclose what the information was.
They also said “the President was watching” and the US would have to consider intelligence sharing with countries that used Huawei equipment.
Their visit came as the outgoing head of MI5, Andrew Parker, said there was “no reason” to think the UK’s intelligence sharing arrangements with the US would be at risk.
The American lobbying comes as the government prepares to make a final decision later this month on whether to allow network providers Vodafone, EE, BT and 3 to deploy Huawei 5G equipment.
Huawei is one of only four global 5G equipment providers, alongside Ericsson, Nokia and another Chinese company ZTE.
The company has been supplying UK networks with 3G and 4G technology since 2005 and any decision to block them could require companies to replace existing infrastructure.
The US has argued for over a year that Huawei pose a national security risk because of possible “back-doors” into their systems that could be controlled from Beijing, and has lobbied its allies to block them.
The company believes they have become a victims of US tensions with China and that the real motivation is commercial and strategic as opposed to based on genuine security concerns.
Huawei rejected the US claims as “unsubstantiated”, and said it had faith in the UK government’s decision-making process.
Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei, said:”We strongly agree with the prime minister that ‘the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology’.
“That is why we invested more than $ 15bn last year in research and development to ensure our customers receive just that.
“Huawei has worked with the UK’s telecoms companies for 15 years and looks forward to supplying the best technologies that help companies like BT and Vodafone fulfil the government’s commitment to make gigabit broadband available to all.
“We are confident that the UK government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations.
“Two UK parliamentary committees concluded there is no technical reason to ban us from supplying 5G equipment and this week the Head of MI5 said, there is ‘no reason to think’ the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be harmed if Britain continued to use Huawei technology.”
If Huawei is cleared for use in UK 5G networks it is expected the firm would be restricted to “non-core” elements of mobile networks.
That is the masts and base stations that will give access to networks, as opposed to areas in which personal information is stored.
A decision is expected by the end of the month, with the National Security Committee likely to meet first to provide final sign-off.