Telcos continue removal of high risk vendors’ equipment

TELECOMS operators have given an update on how they are dealing with equipment supplied by ‘high risk vendors’.

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JT said it was going further than the UK when it comes to removing such equipment from its networks.

The removal of the kit from its 2G, 3G, 4G networks by 2027 and not having any in any future 5G network comes after the UK told telecoms operators to act amid security concerns.

JT said it had a responsibility to keep its networks secure as connectivity improved and the number of devices connected to its networks increased.

‘As an infrastructure business providing networks which are essential to our everyday lives, we take that security extremely seriously,’ said JT in a progress report for 2020-2021.

‘To deliver that we work very closely with the governments in the Channel Islands and with the relevant security agencies in the UK. We stay in close contact with them and liaise on our approach to these critical issues.’

The telco also confirmed that it was taking action in relation to high risk vendors and that it was ‘fully aligned with the UK’s approach’.

‘In fact, we are actually going beyond the UK’s planned removal of any 5G equipment which might be linked to HRVs by 2027, in that we will also be removing such equipment in the 2G, 3G and 4G networks by the same date, as well.’

A future 5G commercial network operated by JT in the Channel Islands would not include any HRV kit either, said the company.

‘Any such equipment used in the existing 5G test network is isolated from our existing mobile and fixed networks and will steadily be phased out,’ it added.

This would also meet JT’s commitments on sustainability by reducing replacement cycles and allowing the telco to buy a more efficient generation of network equipment as it became available.

Cyrille Joffre, Sure’s chief operating officer, said the telco remained committed to providing secure broadband and mobile networks as well as applying the highest standards to its connectivity.

‘We work closely with the three governments and three regulators of the Crown Dependencies, alongside the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, to safeguard the interests of islanders and businesses,’ he said.

‘Consequently, we are working towards removing Huawei equipment from our networks in line with the UK’s Telecoms Bill, which is expected to be enshrined into law later this year. We expect the island governments to release equivalent yet proportionate legislation shortly after.

‘Sure has already implemented a number of changes in preparation and we will continue to consult with local and national bodies on time frames and the next steps to protect islanders.’

A spokesman for telco Airtel-Vodafone said: ‘We are the only Channel Island provider that does not use high risk vendor equipment in our network, hence we are already fully compliant with the UK approach on HRV.’

. Chinese firm Huawei has been identified as a high risk vendor by the UK National Cyber Security Centre, but the NCSC has stressed operators should not assume that all HRVs are Chinese companies.

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