New Zealand blocked its top telecom firm from using Huawei equipment for its 5G mobile network, dealing another blow to the Chinese tech company’s ambitions to become a leader in the next generation wireless technology.
Spark, the country’s largest telecommunications company, said government officials told the company Wednesday that using Huawei’s 5G equipment “would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks.”
New Zealand’s spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), confirmed the assessment in a statement to CNN.
“I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified,” said Andrew Hampton, the director general of GCSB.
Under the country’s telecommunications security law, that means Spark can’t use Huawei equipment to build its planned 5G network.
Huawei is China’s biggest telecommunications and smartphone company. It has invested heavily in 5G technology, becoming one of the few companies, like Sweden’s Ericsson (ERIC) and Finland-based Nokia (NOK), capable of making competitive equipment for global 5G networks.
Huawei said Wednesday that it is “looking into the situation” in New Zealand.
“We will actively address any concerns and work together [with the government] to find a way forward,” the company said in a statement.
New Zealand’s move comes just months after Australia blocked Huawei from providing 5G technology for the country’s wireless networks. The United Kingdom has also warned of potential security risks from using Huawei products.
The most intense scrutiny on the Chinese company is coming from the United States, which has effectively banned Huawei products since 2012. It is now pushing allies to follow suit. US lawmakers have warned Canada to keep Huawei out of its 5G network plans, and American officials are reportedly pressuring Germany, Italy and Japan to stop using Huawei telecommunications equipment.
But several major carriers around the world are already deploying Huawei’s 5G equipment.
The company said it has signed more than 20 commercial contracts for 5G equipment and technology, but didn’t disclose the companies or countries involved in those deals.
Angus Watson contributed to this report.