Even though the chance of its participation in the development of the UK’s 5G networks is hanging by a thread, Huawei has received the green light to build an Optoelectronics R&D and manufacturing centre in South Cambridgeshire that will involve an initial investment of £1 billion.
The new Optoelectronics research facility will be built on a 500-acre plot that Huawei acquired in 2018 and the company will spend around £1 billion in the construction of 50,000 square metres of facilities that will, in the future, serve as the international headquarters of Huawei’s optoelectronics business. Part of the funds will also be used to pay the salaries of employees during the first phase of the site’s development.
“The UK is home to a vibrant and open market, as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer. It’s the perfect location for this integrated innovation campus,” said Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei.
“Through close collaboration with research institutes, universities, and local industry, we want to advance optical communications technology for the industry as a whole, while doing our part to support the UK’s broader Industrial Strategy. Ultimately, we want to help enshrine the UK’s leading position in optoelectronics and promote UK tech on a global scale,” he added.
According to Huawei, optoelectronics is a key technology used in fibre optic communication systems and the first phase of the project will focus on the research, development, and manufacturing of optical devices and modules in order to bring innovation faster to market. The project will also generate up to four hundred high-tech jobs in the UK, the company claimed.
US warns new Huawei facility will impact the UK’s national security
Even though the project was greenlighted by the South Cambridgeshire District Council through nine votes in favour and one against, the United States was quick to react to the approval, warning that allowing Huawei to set up the facility may impact the UK’s “national security, privacy, intellectual property, or human rights.”
The US state department told Financial Times that the UK must carefully assess the long-term impact of allowing untrusted companies like Huawei access to sensitive information as there is no way one can trust a company that is subject to an authoritarian government that lacks an independent judiciary.
Aside from investing £1 billion in the optoelectronics development facility, Huawei has also promised to spend at least £1.5 billion to introduce greater transparency in its operations after the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told telecom firms in the UK that they should be careful while selecting their 5G equipment suppliers.
According to FT, Huawei agreed to make changes to its engineering processes to meet the NCSC’s criteria and to ensure that the government’s cyber security experts will be able to accurately assess the cyber resilience of Huawei’s equipment that will be deployed in the UK.
Image Source: Huawei UK