British Telecommunications Group (BT) has confirmed that it is removing Huawei equipment from part of its 4G network.
The company says the removal is about ensuring a seamless network, after acquiring mobile phone carrier EE in 2015.
BT insists the removal is part of a continuing policy to make sure the combined network is running on the same technology.
News broke on Wednesday that senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada under extradition orders from the US.
Australia and Japan express spying fears
News of the arrest comes amid the decision by many countries to avoid installing Huawei technology due to fears of spying.
Japan and Australia have made moves to block the use of Huawei equipment in the future rollout of 5G networks.
The head of Britain’s intelligence agency has also made comments asking whether the UK was “comfortable” with Chinese ownership of the technology being used.
BT uses France’s Alcatel-Lucent (which was bought by Nokia in 2016) and US-based Cisco to provide core hardware.
BT says the removal is part of a continuing policy
But Huawei has been involved in the network in the past, providing optical fiber and telephone exchange technology.
“In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G mobile networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006,” BT said.
“We’re applying these same principles to our current RFP (request for proposal) for 5G core infrastructure,” BT said.
“As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network and a valued innovation partner.”
MI6 and CIA worry about Huawei
Huawei has been heavily involved with EE’s provision of the new Emergency Services Network (ESN).
The project led by the Home Office will replace the voice-only Airwave system that powers police, ambulance and fire brigade radios with a 4G-capable network that covers all of the UK’s major and minor roads.
The company’s involvement with emergency services raised some alarm with the former head of the CIA commenting that it would “worry [him] a lot” if police were issued with Huawei devices.
Huawei was founded by a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army and questions about the company’s relationship to the current government have been raised.
Meng to face charges in NY
Huawei has denied their relationship with Chinese authorities is improper. Meng is reportedly set to face court on Friday.
The exact nature of the charges against her is unknown, but it is likely related to the suspicion that Huawei sold technology to Iran in breach of US sanctions.
Observers wonder if the arrest is not more politically motivated to send signals to China to back down in their bid to become a leader in the chip and related technology sector.
President Trump has already made moves to ensure that Chinese companies find it difficult to invest in emerging US companies