Communications Minister Kris Faafoi says he has “not ruled out” banning Huawei from building 5G networks.

The company is already locked out of major telecommunications infrastructure projects in Australia and the US. 

Faafoi’s comments come after Australia Signals Directorate chief Mike Burgess said Chinese companies like Huawei or ZTE could not be allowed to help build Australia’s 5G mobile network, because a potential threat anywhere in the network could undermine the entire project.

Burgess also warned his country’s electricity grid and water supplies would not have been adequately protected had a Chinese company been allowed to build the country’s 5G networks.

Huawei is the main network equipment supplier for Spark’s 4G network. It also works with 2degrees. The company has operated in New Zealand for 13 years. Spark has recently worked with Huawei to upgrade cellular towers to 4.5G. Earlier this year Huawei worked with Spark on a successful 5G demonstration in Wellington. 

Spark plans to build a 5G network in time for the 2020 America’s Cup races in Auckland. It has not yet confirmed Huawei as its technology partner for the 5G build, but there is only a limited number of companies to choose from. 

Huawei New Zealand deputy managing director Andrew Bowater says: "Huawei has nothing to hide and we happily open ourselves up to more scrutiny than any other player in the market and we will continue to do whatever it takes to provide our customers and partners as well as the government, the trust and confidence they need.

"The issues have always been based on politics, rumour and innuendo. There has never been any evidence of wrongdoing by Huawei.

“Any network can be vulnerable to risk and it would be almost naïve to think focusing on one company will somehow protect New Zealand’s interests. The risks must be addressed rationally through a joined up approach to security across the whole industry, customers and government.”