The British government has approached the US with the prospect of creating a 5G club of 10 democracies, including India, amid growing security concerns related to Chinese telecom giant Huawei, according to a UK media report.
A so-called “D10” club of democratic partners, including G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada – plus Australia, South Korea and India will aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China, ‘The Times' reported.
The move to speed up such a club comes as the UK launched an inquiry into Huawei's involvement in the country's mobile network upgrade in the wake of US sanctions against the company.
“We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time,” the newspaper quoted a UK government source as saying.
Nokia and Ericsson are the only European suppliers of 5G infrastructure and experts say that they cannot provide 5G kit as quickly or as cheaply as Huawei.
Britain has labelled Huawei a “high-risk” vendor and therefore its involvement in the UK's 5G upgrade comes with a 35 per cent market cap, including a ban on its participation in the sensitive “core” of the network.
The review into Huawei, launched last week by the UK”s National Cyber Security Centre, followed the announcement of US sanctions to block the sale of American chips to the company.
UK security officials fear that the ban will prompt China to use cheaper, less secure technologies, instead of verified US versions.
Officials are, meanwhile, examining proposals to curb the installation of Huawei kit in the 5G network from 2023.
According to the newspaper, increasing the partnership of like-minded democracies forms part of the ongoing reappraisal of the Chinese firm's involvement in the UK.
The US in recent months has increased its action against Huawei, China's first global tech brand and a maker of network equipment and smartphones, preventing it from doing business in the US, as it believes the company known for its technological advancement in 5G is being used by the Chinese leadership to serve their interest.
The Trump administration says Huawei is a security risk, which the company denies, and is trying to persuade European and other allies to shun its technology for the next-generation telecom networks.
China has accused the US of raising phony security concerns to hurt a rising competitor to American tech companies.