Chinese manufacturer and world number-two infrastructure vendor Huawei opens Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in Oxfordshire to showcase and test its network equipment, and allay any security fears ahead of fight for UK LTE contracts
Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei has opened a ‘Cyber Security Evaluation Centre’ in Banbury, in Oxfordshire in the UK, to test its network equipment against the threat of cyber attacks.
It is a move also to dispel recent security concerns in certain markets, with independent testing and monitoring of its hardware and software by the UK government’s Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG).
John Frieslaar, managing director of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, said: “This centre is like a glasshouse – transparent, readily accessible, and open to regulators and our customers. The establishment of this centre demonstrates our commitment to building mutual trust in the area of cyber security and to continuously deliver high-quality and reliable communications networks to our customers in the UK.”
Chinese firms have faced obstacles gaining traction in key overseas markets. India this year raised security concerns over network gear from both Huawei and country rival ZTE after local operators Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices applied to the Indian government for approval to use their kit.
The Indian government subsequently put in place a ban on the import of Huawei and ZTE equipment until the pair accepted in August revised import terms from the Indian government
Similarly, The Wall Street Journal claimed in November US operator Sprint Nextel had turned down network upgrade bids from Huawei and ZTE because of US government fears over possible dangers to national security, even though their tenders beat rival firms’ on price.
Huawei, the number two network infrastructure provider behind Swefish firm Ericcson, has no wireless network infrastructure work with any operator in the UK, although it has ongoing contracts with broadband providers BT and TalkTalk and was responsible for O2’s recent LTE trial in Slough.
Western vendors Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks are responsible for most UK network infrastructure.
However, Huawei is currently taking 36 per cent of new LTE network building contracts, winning 18 bids to date. Market-leader Ericsson has achieved just 16 per cent of contracts wins, although Ericsson claims its wins are more significant in scale and revenue terms.
The new Cyber Security Evaluation Centre has been opened well ahead of Huawei’s battle for UK LTE contracts, likely to be formally tendered by UK operators in 2011, ahead of spectrum auctions by regulator Ofcom in early 2012.
The site was opened by Huawei senior vice president and chairman of its global network security committee Ken Hu and UK government chief information officer and senior information risk owner John Suffolk. It was attended by industry representatives from BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Vodafone and the UK government
Hu said: “Huawei has significant experience and a solid track record with regard to cyber security and we are eager to work in an open and transparent manner with governments and organisations to address security challenges.
“We are truly grateful to the UK government for being open-minded, practical and far-sighted. The practice of the UK government will not only play a positive role in facilitating the continuous development of the UK telecom industry, but will also become a benchmark in the area of cyber security worldwide.”
Huawei said CESG will work with it to ensure its products meet UK government security standards.
A CESG spokesperson said: “No system is completely invulnerable and the globalisation of the telecoms industry means it faces a growing range of cyber security threats. CESG will work with Huawei to ensure their products meet UK government security standards.
“This security centre will not work in isolation. Robust operational management and network architectures will also contribute to enabling the UK to benefit from new technology whilst tackling the cyber security risks.”