It’s emerged that much of the newest mobile telephone transmitter equipment installed in the Penarth area has been made by the controversial Chinese multinational electronics firm Huawei – which is now regarded as being a security threat.
The Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson says “I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely.We’ve got to recognise the fact, that the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way.“
Huawei electronics were specified for the controversial mast installed in 2015 in Clive Place, for Vodafone and Telefonica within the Penarth Conservation Area.
The mast – transparently “disguised” as a telegraph pole – is the highest phone mast in Penarth.
In 2017 new Huawei mobile phone transmission and receiving equipment was installed for Vodafone and Telefonica in Railway Terrace Penarth along with a new 17.5-metre-high mast with 6 directional antennae – although this was subsequently modified to a single 360 degree antenna.
Already Australia, New Zealand and the USA have restricted the use of Huawei technology in their 5G mobile networks – not because it isn’t reliable but because Chinese hackers are claimed to be penetrating the mobile networks to extract data – including commercial secrets.
Huawei was founded by a former officer in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The firm claims that it has “never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks” – [ a phrase which amounts to a lot less than an actual denial] and insists that it does not have any ties to the Chinese Communist Government.
That said, however – BT (the former British Telecom) is busy opening up its 3G and 4G technical cabinets, removing and junking the Huawei-made equipment installed inside.
BT has also made a public pledge not to use Huawei products in the core of its 5G service.
Huawei equipment is also now being ripped out of the UK’s Emergency Services Network (ESN). This is the new UK-wide communication system currently under construction for the UK police, ambulance and fire services and had been due to come on stream next year.
Just before Christmas 2 Chinese men were arrested and accused of hacking into computer networks of Western companies and government agencies.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described the actions of these men as “one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the UK and allies uncovered to date”.
The UK Foreign Office says thje Chinese hackers were working for the Chinese Ministry of State Security and were stealing commercial secrets from firms in Europe, Asia and the United States. China has hit back – accusing Britain of “deep-rooted pride and prejudice”
The Vodafone mast in the St Cyres area may also have Huawei equipment although it’s an earlier installation than the Clive Place and Railway Terrace installations. There is also a major mobile phone antenna complex on the roof of the Waverley care home Plymouth Road – the origin of which is not known.
One known exception to Huawei equipment in Penarth is the recently renewed mobile phone system at the former Robert Smith Garage in Windsor Road which was installed for the Hong Kong company Hutchinson 3G . This does not appear to have any Huawei equipment in it.