Guernsey to mirror UK and cut out Huawei from telecoms network

GUERNSEY will mirror steps taken by the UK to cut Huawei out of 5G telecoms equipment.

The States has promised that the decision will not slow vital improvements to digital connectivity in the island.

Deputy Mary Lowe, president of the Committee for Home Affairs, said: ‘Our close constitutional relationship with the UK means it’s important we are aligned on national security matters and I’d like to thank the NCSC [National Cyber Security Centre] for its work in keeping us informed in the run up to this decision.

‘It means we’re in a position to respond swiftly to mirror these steps, and ensure our local operators can do the same.’

Huawei, a telecoms giant based in Shenzhen in the south of China, has come under fire in the UK and US for its links to the Chinese state government amid fears that telecoms security would be compromised by using its products.

The Home Affairs and Economic Development committees said the decision to prevent Huawei equipment from being used in any 5G network, and for Chinese High Risk Vendors’ equipment to be removed from all networks by 2027, is not expected to have any impact in the delivery of either 5G or fibre to the home in the Bailiwick, if it is agreed by the Assembly.

A spokesman said: ‘The States has had regular contact with the UK NCSC and the decision is one the States, the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority and local operators had anticipated.

‘The potential threat, the mitigations, commercial and other aspects meant that there was an expectation and broad agreement of the need for similar requirements locally.’

Home Affairs and Economic Development say they have worked with telecommunications operators to ensure that they know of the UK’s stance and the likely need to adopt a similar approach against a similar timeline as that set out in the UK, and will meet them again in the coming weeks for further talks.

A telecoms strategy policy letter will be laid before the States Assembly later this year. It was originally a key part of Economic Development’s Digital Framework but has taken on extra prominence as a core part of both the Revive and Thrive Recovery Strategy.

Economic Development president Deputy Charles Parkinson said: ‘The need for digital connectivity was highlighted during lockdown. Enhancing our connectivity both in terms of fixed and mobile networks and improving our fibre to the home connectivity is essential to our economy going forward, and it is one of the short-term actions we need to get on with, in our Revive and Thrive Recovery Strategy.

‘We’re confident that the national security steps being taken with regard to Huawei will not affect how quickly we introduce improved connectivity.

‘That must remain a priority, particularly at this time as we look to build back and grow our economy, following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.’

Home Affairs and Economic Development say they will continue to work with regulators, security agencies and telecoms providers on the issue.

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