UK bans Huawei 5G equipment, delays removal from networks

UK bans Huawei 5G equipment, delays removal from networks

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

At the same time the UK government has advised fibre optic broadband suppliers should transition away from purchasing Huawei equipment.

The UK had previously said it would look to get all Huawei equipment out of UK communications networks by 2023 (see UK prepares to kick Huawei out of 5G by 2023). This brought howls of protest from mobile service providers who contended it would be unfeasibly expensive to remove the equipment. The delayed removal of equipment appears to be an attempt the spread costs out for those operators.

The latest decision has implemented the total ban on Huawei that had been sought by the United States while giving greater time for the replacement of Huawei equipment and indicating this removal applies to 5G cellular communications only.

China’s Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company and a leader in 5G cellular communications equipment. However, it has been accused by the US of being a security risk because under Chinese law it could be compelled to share data with the Chinese government. Huawei has always protested that it has no intention of such action.

The UK had originally tried to ignore US calls for an outright ban on Huawei and took a compromise position in January – allowing Huawei a limited role at the periphery of the UK’s 5G network – in the hope of maintaining relations with both the US and China.

However, since May when the US began implementing increased sanctions against Huawei denying the telecommunications firm access to leading-edge integrated circuits (see US tightens restrictions on Huawei’s chip supply) the UK has asked the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to look at the impact of US sanctions and how the effect Huawei’s credibility as a supplier.

Next: What will Huawei, China do?

The decision was taken July 14 at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the Prime Minister, in response to the new US sanctions. The existing restrictions on Huawei in sensitive and critical parts of the network remain in place.

The UK government will now seek to legislate with a new Telecoms Security Bill at the earliest opportunity.

The Chinese have previously said that such a ban would have consequences although did not elaborate. One could be the withdrawal of plans for Huawei to build a billion-pound optoelectronics R&D campus in Cambridge. The site is expected eventually to employ 400 highly-paid engineers.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

UK prepares to kick Huawei out of 5G by 2023

US tightens restrictions on Huawei’s chip supply

Huawei’s £1 billion campus in Cambridge gets planning permission

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