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Mobile network trade body calls for Europe-wide 5G security inspector

The GSM Association (GSMA) wants a pan-European security regime to test and approve 5G network equipment before it’s bought and installed by network operators.

The trade group, which represents over 750 mobile networks across the world, counts Huawei among its members. While Chinese equipment makers including ZTE, have been the subject of intense western scrutiny in recent years, it’s Huawei that’s seen to have ties to the Chinese government, and which has borne the brunt of this scrutiny.

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US, Australian, and New Zealand governments have banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their future 5G networks. Since 2010, Huawei has agreed to hand over all products intended for sale in the UK, like the Huawei Mate 20 X (pictured), to the GCHQ for testing in the purpose-built Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC).

Last year, government officials said Huawei had “fallen short” of “industry good practice”, and if long-term assurances could not be provided, the company would be regarded as a security risk.

Meanwhile, Despina Spanou, director of digital society, trust and cybersecurity for the EU’s Communications Network, Content and Technology board recently told The Register that the European Commission has “not seen any evidence demonstrating that there is an issue” with any of Huawei’s tech, but admitted that currently, it’s up to individual member states to assess whether or not Huawei, or any other company, poses a security risk.

In order to strengthen security across Europe and speed up installation of 5G equipment, the GSMA says its assembling a “task force” of European networks to identify how existing testing schemes can be improved, and is calling on governments to pool resources in order to maintain “confidence in network security while maintaining competition in the supply of network equipment”.

With telecoms regulator Ofcom hoping for the next set of 5G spectrum auctioning to take place this October, the GSMA and interested parties had better hurry up if their main intention is ensure that European operators and customers dont get left behind.

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The Association hopes that by 2025, networks will have dropped between €300 billion and €500 billion (£263 billion – £440 billion) on 5G rollout, generating over 4% of GDP across the continent.

Do you think that the UK government should collaborate and cooperate with European agencies on infrastructure testing, or should it be a case of ‘Huawei or the highway’? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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