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Huawei crackdown

Huawei back in New Zealand's 5G plans despite security concerns

Country's No. 2 carrier addresses unease with smaller role for Chinese supplier

Spark New Zealand has decided to keep Huawei on its 5G supplier list.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- New Zealand's second-largest mobile carrier plans to procure some equipment from Huawei Technologies in its fifth-generation wireless network, despite security concerns that sank an earlier proposal centered on the Chinese company.

Spark New Zealand named Huawei as one of its preferred 5G vendors Monday, along with Samsung Electronics and Nokia.

This represents a compromise from Spark's initial plan last year, which put Huawei front and center, including as its sole supplier of base stations. The government rejected this proposal, citing national security risks.

New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes Anglophone intelligence alliance. The U.S., a fellow member, has pushed hard for other countries to keep Huawei out of their 5G infrastructure, and Australia imposed such a ban in August 2018.

In announcing its new plan, Spark -- half of a near-duopoly in New Zealand's mobile market alongside Vodafone New Zealand -- stressed its range of suppliers.

"5G technology is still emerging and is likely to develop significantly in the next few years, so a mix of vendors makes sense," said Rajesh Singh, Spark's general manager of value management.

Whether Wellington will approve the new plan remains unclear.

Spark in September rolled out 5G wireless broadband service on a trial basis in part of New Zealand's South Island, using Nokia equipment. It targets a full-fledged launch of 5G service for mobile devices around mid-2020.

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