The Norwegian government could join other western nations in excluding Huawei Technologies from constructing part of Norway’s 5G telecommunications infrastructure, Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara told Reuters on the sidelines of a business conference. The government is currently discussing measures to reduce potential vulnerabilities in its telecoms sector ahead of the upgrade.
State-controlled Telenor signed its first major contract with Huawei in 2009, a deal that helped pave the way for the Chinese firm’s global expansion, Reuters said. Telenor and competitor Telia currently use 4G Huawei equipment in Norway and are testing equipment from the Chinese company in their experimental 5G networks.
Wara told the news agency that the government shares the same concerns as the US and UK regarding potential espionage on private and state actors in Norway. He said the question is one of high priority and the state aims have this in place before the next round of the telecom network is built. Asked whether action might be taken against Huawei specifically, Wara said the government was indeed considering the steps taken in the US and UK.
At the end of December, UK Defence Secretary Gain Williamson said he had grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing 5G networks in the UK and that the possibility of security threats should be examined, adding that that “the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way”. Earlier that month, BT said it was removing Huawei equipment from its existing 4G and 3G networks, and would not use it at the core of its new 5G network.
In August, US President Donald Trump signed the Defense Authorization Act, which among other military spending measures bans government agencies from doing business with Huawei and ZTE because of concerns about their links with Chinese state security agencies.
Reuters cited Tore Orderloekken, cyber-security officer at Huawei Norway, as saying its customers there have strong security requirements and manage the risk in their operations well. He said that Huawei will continue to be open and transparent and offer extended testing and verification of its equipment to prove that it can deliver secure products on the 5G network in Norway.
Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters that Norway has had full control over critical infrastructure for many, many years and that the operator takes it very seriously.