Chinese spy equipment to be installed on Darwell phone mast?

A planned upgrade to the Netherfield phone mast is to include equipment manufactured by Huawei, the controversial Chinese Telecommunications firm.

Documents were submitted to Rother District Council on 8th March 2019 under reference RR/2019/851/TN for the installation of additional telecommunications equipment at the existing phone mast in Darwell Woods, Netherfield.

One of the submitted documents details the equipment to be installed as “Microwave only (Huawei)” and “Huawei dish link equipment”.

The full document can be viewed here (scroll to page 5)

In a covering letter, the installers, Clarke Telecom, say “In view of the minor nature of the works we would not envisage writing or consulting with the Ward Councillors or Parish/town Council in this instance.”

The phone mast carries signals on behalf of Vodafone and also Airwave, the mobile phone service for the emergency services.  The new Huawei equipment will be mounted next to the Airwave equipment.

The phone mast is located in Darwell Woods, and provides mobile phone signal and 4G data to Netherfield and Brightling.

Huawei has been in the news recently since details of the National Security Council meeting in April 2019 were leaked to the Daily Telegraph.  The decision taken at that meeting was to allow Huawei to suppy “non-core” components to the phone and mobile data network, but several ministers argued for a total ban on Huawei equipment, on the grounds that although it is ostensibly a private company it is in practice under the control of the Chinese authorities, and the equipment could potentially contain “back-door” vulnerabilities which could be used in a cyber-attack.  In 2012, Vodafone found a number of hidden back-doors in Huawei equipment.  Recently, a US official has warned that the UK’s leaked proposal to adopt Huawei technology for 5G mobile phone networks risks affecting intelligence cooperation with the US.