Parliamentary Committee Notes: Telecommunications Act Amendments and 5G Security

Date: January 31, 2023

Branch/Agency: NCSB

Proposed Response:

If pressed:

5G Wireless Networks and Telecommunications Security

Wireless networks are the modern infrastructure on which the global data driven economy is built. The global telecommunications sector is undergoing a transition from 4G to 5G and is looking ahead to next generation networks. 5G networks will operate at significantly higher speeds and will provide greater versatility, capability, and complexity than previous generations. As a result, 5G networks will become a crucial component of Canada's critical infrastructure. The full implementation of 5G in Canada's federally regulated wireless telecommunications sector will take several years and began with the 5G spectrum auction in 2020.

The Government of Canada worked closely with allies and experts on an examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated economic opportunities and security risks. Particular consideration was afforded to foreign and defence relations, economic, national security, and technical implications.

The examination made clear that while this technology will bring significant benefits and economic opportunities, it will also introduce new security vulnerabilities that malicious actors could exploit. Incidents resulting from such exploitation could have a broader impact than in previous generations of wireless technology. Further, high risk suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE could be compelled to comply with extrajudicial directions from foreign governments in ways that would conflict with Canadian laws or would be detrimental to Canadian interests. Shifts in international supply chain dynamics have implications for Canada's ability to conduct assurance testing.

On 19 May 2022, the Government of Canada announced its position on telecommunications security and 5G. The Government intends to prohibit Canadian telecommunications service providers from deploying Huawei and ZTE products and services in their 5G networks, requiring that all existing 5G equipment and managed services be removed by the end of 2023, as well as an immediate halt to all procurement of from these suppliers. In 4G networks, use of new equipment and services would be prohibited by 31 December 2022, with complete removal by 2027.

These measures have been introduced as part of a new telecommunications security framework. The Telecommunications Act is intended to be amended to ensure that promoting the security and protection of our telecommunications system is an overriding objective of Canada's telecommunications policy, and will include mechanisms to prohibit, where necessary, the use of equipment and services from designated suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE.


Canada's Five Eyes partners have all made public announcements on how they plan to protect 5G wireless telecommunications networks with the most recent being the United Kingdom in July 2020. These policies range in specificity from the naming of specific entities to generic statements of intent to bolster security.

Current Network Security

In the context of current 3G/4G/LTE networks, a Canadian Security Review Program is in place to mitigate cyber security risks. CSE actively engages with Canadian telecommunications service providers and equipment vendors to help ensure the security of today's existing Canadian telecommunications infrastructure.

The program has been in place since 2013, and has helped mitigate risks stemming from designated equipment and services under consideration for use in Canadian 3G/4G/LTE telecommunications networks, including Huawei. To date, this program has led to:

With the announcement of Canada's position on telecommunications security and 5G, the Government will build on the success of the program, which will be expanded to apply more broadly to improve the cyber security of key telecommunications products and services deployed in Canada's networks, including 5G.


Responsible manager: [REDACTED], NCSB/NCSD, [REDACTED]

Approved by: Sebastien Aubertin-Giguere, Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, 613-614-4715 

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