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Ofcom’s CEO highlights risk of lack of telecoms equipment choice

Ofcom’s CEO highlights risk of lack of telecoms equipment choice

Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom, the UK regulator, has said that the small number of equipment suppliers has created systemic risks to the country’s networks that may need to be addressed with regulation. She made the remarks amid tensions with the US over whether Britain will permit equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei to be used for next-generation 5G telecom services, reports Bloomberg. “The government is currently conducting a review of the telecoms industry supply chain to consider issues around security, but also around network resilience. Britain is set to toughen the rules under which Huawei operates in the country while stopping short of an outright ban on the Chinese telecoms equipment maker.” White, who was speaking at a government-hosted cybersecurity conference in Glasgow, Scotland, implied banning Huawei equipment outright would create other vulnerabilities for UK mobile networks. She said that consolidation among telecoms equipment vendors had left mobile carriers with little choice over which equipment to choose for some critical parts of their networks. She said that Ofcom wants these carriers to think harder about diversifying their equipment supply chain to make their future networks more resilient. “We are responsible for much tougher guidance to the telecoms industry on this,” she said, without specifically referencing the Huawei debate. “We need to ask, can our guidance encourage companies to start looking at these areas of fragility much earlier.” She said that last year’s outage on Telefónica’s O2 mobile network in the UK, which stemmed from a licensing issue with Ericsson software, was an example of the problems with carriers being dependent on a single supplier for critical components, software and services. “White’s comments echo those also made by Jeremy Wright, the UK culture secretary, in response to lawmakers’ questions about the supply chain review. Wright warned that improving the number of suppliers for key pieces of equipment ‘will not be a quick fix… It will take some time to broaden the market out beyond what is essentially now three suppliers in this space, and three only,’ Wright said, referring to Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia. Read more

  • Wednesday, 15 May 2019

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