Spark said it was planning to use equipment from the Chinese vendor in its 5G Radio Access Network

New Zealand carrier Spark confirmed the local government would not allow the company to deploy 5G gear manufactured by Chinese vendor Huawei over alleged national security risks, the telco said in a statement.

Spark New Zealand said it had recently notified the Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), in accordance with the requirements of the Telecommunications Act 2013 (TICSA), of its proposed approach to implementing 5G technology on the Spark mobile network.

Specifically, this proposal involved the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), which involves the technology associated with cell tower infrastructure, the company said.

“The Director-General has informed Spark that he considers Spark’s proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks,” Spark said.

“Under TICSA, this means Spark cannot implement or give effect to its proposal to use Huawei RAN equipment in its planned 5G network. Spark has not yet had an opportunity to review the detailed reasoning behind the Director-General’s decision. Following our review, Spark will consider what further steps, if any, it will take.”

The New Zealand carrier also said that this decision will not affect plans to launch its 5G network in July 2020, subject to the necessary spectrum being made available by the New Zealand government.

Earlier this month, Huawei New Zealand’s deputy CEO, Andrew Bowater, said that the vendor will not take part in the bidding process to build core 5G networks in New Zealand.

Huawei said that “it’s not worth the hassle” to take part in this process as the New Zealand authorities were considering the possibility of banning the vendor.

However, the executive said that Huawei was planning to focus on taking part in tenders for the provision of radio access networks (RAN) components for local carriers.

Bowater also denied that Huawei could pose any security threat with the deployment of 5G equipment. If the New Zealand government were to block Huawei from bidding for 5G contracts, consumers would ultimately pay the price, the executive added.

In August, Australian authorities announced a decision to prevent certain vendors from taking part in the rollout of 5G mobile networks across the country, effectively banning Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from involvement.

Huawei said the decision by the Australian government to block the company from the country’s domestic 5G market is politically motivated and not the result of a fact-based decision-making process.

Also in August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which includes new regulations that ban government agencies doing business with Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE. The bill prohibits the U.S. government and its contractors from buying certain telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese communications companies. The ban covers components and services deemed “essential” or “critical” to any government system.

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