The news comes as Huawei is battling a US -led charge against the company.
According to Vodafone, the backdoors affected products in Italy, and have since been resolved, though it's not clear exactly when it happened. Having said that this latest piece of circumstantial evidence is certainly unhelpful l to Huawei in the current environment and could well cause some reputational damage to Vodafone too. That is the reason why Apple refused to build a backdoor into iOS for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when it wanted help in cracking the security of an iPhone model that belonged one of the San Bernardino shooters.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Vodafone confirmed that it discovered vulnerabilities in Huawei-made equipment that it was using in 2011 and 2012.
Huawei mirrored this statement, noting that it addressed the "historical vulnerabilities" in 2011 and 2012. "Software vulnerabilities are an industry-wide challenge".
With Bloomberg, an American company, characterising Vodafone's use of Huawei equipment as "defiance" showing "that countries across Europe are willing to risk rankling the US in the name of 5G preparedness", it appears that the US-Euro-China divide on 5G technology suppliers isn't closing up any time soon. The companies said the telnet equipment was to test the network, had been left behind by accident and was later removed. The London-based carrier stated in March that a complete ban on using Huawei equipment would be seriously damaging to the UK's 5G future. As the report goes, Vodafone asked Huawei to remove the backdoors in its home internet routers in 2011, and Huawei said it would.
In a subsequent statement, Vodafone criticized the Bloomberg story. Vodafone also identified backdoors in parts of its fixed-access network known as optical service nodes, which are responsible for transporting internet traffic over optical fibers, and other parts called broadband network gateways, which handle subscriber authentication and access to the internet, the people said.
A spokesman for Vodafone said: "The "backdoor" that Bloomberg refers to is telnet, which is a protocol that is commonly used by many vendors in the industry for performing diagnostic functions".
While there is ample evidence in the public domain that Huawei is doing badly on the basics of enterprise software development, so far there has been little that tends to show it deliberately implements espionage backdoors.
Now it should be stressed that this is still far from the smoking gun evidence of inherent security vulnerability the U.S. claims to have and which Huawei wants to see.
"What is of most concern here is that actions of Huawei in agreeing to remove the code, then trying to hide it, and now refusing to remove it as they need it to remain for "quality" purposes".