San Francisco (CNN Business) With the imminent arrival of 5G to more US cities, several United States senators expressed concern over how to roll out the new technology without the help of Chinese equipment makers.
5G technology is the next generation of ultra-fast wireless connections. The four main carriers in the US -— Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T, which owns CNN’s parent company Warner Media — have vowed not to use components, such as chips, from Huawei or other Chinese companies. These larger US companies never relied on Chinese technology when deploying past networks, so it’s a matter of continuing to avoid it going forward. Smaller and more rural US-based carriers do have Huawei in their networks and would need to work to phase them out.
Huawei is the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, but the US government has growing concerns that using its technology could pose a national security threat.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed concern over how China can gain sensitive information through companies like Huawei.
“I begin to question the whole 5G thing because it creates a situation that can be used to do tremendous harm,” Feinstein said. “This is a very big deal because it could make our country incredibly vulnerable and we cannot let China do this, it’s that simple.”
US regulators have moved to limit federal funding for US carriers who use Huawei gear with their networks over fears the equipment could allow the Chinese government to eavesdrop on sensitive US communications. US officials embarked on an international campaign in February to discourage the use of Huawei components among its strategic partners.
But many of the US’ closest allies, including the UK with whom the US shares data, continue to use Chinese equipment, a practice that raises concerns about the security of US data.
Many European officials have acknowledged the risk but differ with the United States over whether it can be managed. In April, the Daily Telegraph reported the UK’s National Security Council — a body led by Prime Minister Theresa May — agreed to let Huawei help build the country’s 5G network. According to the leaked decision, Huawei would have relatively limited access to all but the innermost parts of the 5G network.
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