Huawei Expands 5G Testing Across U.K. Amid Security Concerns

(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Ltd. has signed contracts with all four U.K. mobile networks to test its fifth-generation wireless equipment, deepening the Chinese vendor’s involvement in Britain’s telecom industry as officials weigh whether to ban the company over security concerns.

Huawei’s 5G gear was already being tested by BT Group Plc’s EE, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s Three U.K. and Vodafone Group Plc. A few weeks ago, the Shenzhen, China-based company signed a contract to test equipment across 200 sites in London with Telefonica SA’s U.K. carrier O2, spokesmen for Huawei and O2 said. There is no guarantee the tests will lead to supply contracts.

“We are testing Huawei radio equipment before we deploy it on some of our cell sites in London,” said an O2 spokesman by email. “We do this with all vendors in order to drive optimum network performance for our customers.”

The contract was signed “weeks ago,” said the Huawei spokesman -- before scrutiny of the company intensified with the dramatic arrest of its Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada. The agreement was first reported by the Financial Times newspaper on Friday.

Huawei faces bans in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. over fears that China’s government could use its systems to spy on other countries. The U.K.’s approach is being watched closely by allies, particularly in Europe, as its intelligence service GCHQ has been closely monitoring the security of the company’s equipment at a dedicated testing site.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.