A company that has been banned from working in the USA, Australia and New Zealand is set to help the roll-out of new mobile phone technology.
In October Manx Telecom presented its plans for 5G alongside the Chinese tech giant Huawei, which is the world’s largest producer of electronic products.
However, Manx Telecom now says it will be ’some time before we see a live 5G network in the island’ and insists it will be guided by the proper authorities over security issues. Rival Sure is also working with the Chinese company and is confident about its security.
Concerns over Huawei have been growing since the United States called it a ’national security risk’.
Huawei was then banned from facilitating the 5G roll-out in America, New Zealand and Australia.
However, the UK’s Secretary for Defence, Gavin Williamson MP, says he has ’grave concerns’ over plans for Huawei to roll out its servers across the UK.
Mr Williamson told The Times newspaper: ’I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely.
’We’ve got to look at what partners such as Australia and the US are doing in order to ensure that they have the maximum security of that 5G network and we’ve got to recognise the fact, as has been recently exposed, that the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way.’
In response to this, Chief Minister Howard Quayle told the Examiner: ’We have been following the international situation with Huaewi and will continue to monitor this.
’Our cyber security and information assurance team will follow all advice that we receive from the UK.’
The company has previously provide and continues to provide 4G technology for the island.
A 2013 press release from Manx Telecom said: ’In addition to building the network’s infrastructure, Huawei will also supply the latest 4G devices to the Manx Telecom portfolio, enabling its customers to take advantage of super-fast services with increased mobile broadband speeds several times faster than current 3G services.
And then Chief Minister Allan Bell said: ’I welcome the news that Manx Telecom plans to launch its 4G network next year, and that they are collaborating with a world-class 4G technology provider.’
If a decision to drop Huawei is made, that could delay 5G roll-out.
European competitors Nokia and Ericsson are believed to be more than a year away from developing equivalent technology while South Korea’s Samsung was ’late to the party’ according to that nation’s media.
Ed Jennings, chief commercial officer at Manx Telecom, said: ’We are aware of the various actions taken and statements made by a few, select operators and politicians worldwide and how this has generated some media publicity around Huawei.
’We are in regular communication with all of our providers and with the government regarding security matters and we will continue to work with, and be guided by, the proper authorities in this regard.
’Otherwise we are focused on business as usual.
’Manx Telecom uses Huawei for various parts of its 4G mobile network and this is not in any way unusual. We are not the only Isle of Man telecoms provider to work with Huawei and in fact there are well in excess of 100 operators working with Huawei worldwide.
’Huawei is part of Manx Telecom’s multi-provider strategy which gives us the flexibility to access and provide best of breed services to our customers.
’In October 2018 we were the first to bring a demonstration of 5G to the island in the form of Huawei’s “5G Is Now” roadshow. The event was very successful. More than 120 guests attended and we received a lot of positive feedback. The event was designed to promote interest and discussion in 5G and it served that purpose well but it will be some time before we see a live 5G network on the island and we are some way from selecting a vendor.’
Sure also uses the Huawei 4G system and said negotiations for its 5G roll-out were ’confidential’.
Mike Phillips, chief executive officer of Sure in the Isle of Man, said: ’Sure considers security to be of paramount importance from an infrastructure perspective and as such we will always select the best suppliers and partners to provide our services.
’Sure is a highly-rated telecoms operator for security having been awarded the international information security standard accreditation ISO27001. This applies to all of our network technologies and infrastructure such as 4G and data centres.
’Additionally, Sure works with the Isle of Man Government and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which includes the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to ensure our networks are secure.
’We’re hugely excited by the potential of 5G mobile technology which will bring multi-gigabit speeds to everyone, everywhere. We believe this technology is best explained as “fibre in the air” for the Isle of Man.
’Sure is currently conducting an extensive 5G tender process, involving a number of suppliers from around the world. Our intention is to develop a comprehensive, ubiquitous 5G solution that harnesses the truly transformational potential of this technology for the benefit of our island.’