Huawei to Open Chip Plant In UK, Following Backdoor Allegations

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According to the Financial Times, Huawei announced that it plans to build a chip research and development factory in the UK, right next to Arm’s headquarters. Huawei has been recently accused of installing backdoors in telecom equipment. To regain its trust, the UK government has asked the company to commit to multi-billion dollar investments that would make it easier for regulators to verify whether or not Huawei’s equipment is compromised.

New Huawei R&D Center In UK

Last year, Huawei purchased a 550-acre site from Spicers, a UK stationery business, for $49 million. The company intends to build an R&D center there employing about 400 people that should open by 2021.

The focus of the new R&D center will be making chips for broadband networks, but eventually, the company may also start developing AI software there. Huawei’s network equipment has come under fire recently from multiple governments, and the U.S. government has warned that Huawei’s hardware may come with backdoors meant to aid the Chinese government in espionage operations.

Some Continue To See Huawei As Security Risk

Vodafone recently admitted that between 2011 and 2012 it found certain security holes in Huawei’s network devices that allowed the company to connect remotely to the devices and change their configuration. Vodafone didn’t want this kind of “feature” to exist in its devices due to the security risk it posed to Vodafone’s own customers, but Huawei was initially reluctant to disable the capability completely.

Huawei has also promised for several years to invest billions of dollars into making sure that its networking software can be easily audited, but a report from the UK government found that the company hasn’t made any real progress on that front. The company has yet again promised to change this, but it remains to be seen how committed it will be to this promise.

According to Financial Times, some of the residents where Huawei plans to develop its R&D center believe that Huawei is coming there to spy on the UK government. However, most seem to believe that the Chinese company’s investments are welcome, according to the FT report.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently let Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson go because he presumably leaked to the press the fact that Mrs. May would allow Huawei’s 5G equipment in UK networks despite the security risks that this involved.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • Co BIY
    Are their no other makers of this 5G equipment?

    UK officials/ PM May : "We are concerned you might be spying on us."
    Huawei : "That's crazy talk. Say, we'd like to build a spy "Research" base facility in direct line of sight of several of
    your leading tech companies."
    UK officials /PM May : "Humm..."
    Huawei : "So, where are you at with that Brexit situation?"
    PM May : "Lets talk real estate. Have you heard about our international relocation incentives and talented local
    workforce ?"