UK tells telcos to stockpile Huawei gear in face of U.S. sanctions: letter

FILE PHOTO: The British flag and a smartphone with a Huawei and 5G network logo are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture taken January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

LONDON (Reuters) – British security officials have told UK telecom operators to ensure they have adequate stockpiles of Huawei equipment due to fears that new U.S. sanctions will disrupt the Chinese firm’s ability to maintain critical supplies, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Senior officials at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), who are studying the impact of new U.S. measures intended to restrict Huawei’s ability to source advanced microchips, wrote to Britain’s BT Group and Vodafone last week, said three people familiar with the matter.

The NCSC told the companies they needed to maintain adequate supplies of spare parts from all manufacturers, but emphasised the increased risk to Huawei’s equipment and its future ability to provide software updates for those products in the face of U.S. pressure.

“Ensuring that products and components are kept up to date is essential to maintaining the security of networks,” the letter said. “Escalating U.S. action against Huawei may affect its ability to provide updates for products containing U.S. technology.”

An NCSC spokeswoman said: “The NCSC has provided operators with a series of precautionary steps we recommend they take while we carefully consider the impact these sanctions have on the UK’s networks.”

BT and Vodafone declined to comment. A Huawei spokesman said the company was cooperating fully with the NCSC and declined immediate further comment.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Kate Holton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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