The UK has announced it will ban Huawei’s technology from its 5G network by 2027, citing potential security fears currently engulfing the Chinese company.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement that reversed the UK’s decision to previously allow Huawei to install technology for its 5G network, stating that it was no longer able to guarantee a supply of Huawei technology after the US imposed sanctions on the company.
The UK’s National Security Council has banned any purchases of Huawei technology, and will start the process of removing Huawei components from its networks to be completed in 2027.
In a media release the UK’s National Security Council has issued advice on “managing high-risk vendors within UK telecommunications networks.”
Oliver Dowden, the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport secretary has said that “this has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”
“By the time of the next election, we will have implemented, in law, an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has previously called Huawei an “agent of the Chinese Communist state,” asking Western democracies to follow his lead.
Currently, Huawei has technology installed in BT, Vodafone and Three’s 4G and 5G networks. The government has asked all telecom companies to “transition away” from Huawei components, otherwise they’ll be at risk of being barred from operating.
In response, Huawei has labeled the decision “disappointing,” adding that it represented “bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone.”
“Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider,” adding that “we remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.”
The company will launch an investigation into the real-world impact of the ban on its day-to-day operations, and has added that it “will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain.”
Michael Downs, director of telecom security at Positive Technologies has said that “the ongoing tug of war within the UK on Huawei’s involvement in its 5G networks has come to an end. Although the government isn’t stripping Huawei’s equipment straight away the phased approach will have a marked effect on the telecoms industry, potentially costing billions because a lot of the major UK operators such as BT Vodafone are already using its equipment not just for 5G but previous generation networks as well.”
He continued to explain that “long term, the decision to exclude Huawei cannot be solved with a solution as idealistically simple as just swapping it for an alternative vendor immediately. There is also the additional cost of delaying deployments, as companies have already gone through the process of testing 5G equipment from Huawei.”
“This whole process – including testing – will have to be started all over again. This will mean a more expensive network for the UK and a delay that could result in its national infrastructure being inferior compared to other countries.”
Chief Executive at British Telecoms, Philip Jansen has said that “the security of our networks is an absolute priority for BT. Clearly this decision has logistical and cost implications for communications providers in the UK market- however, we believe the timescales outlined will allow us to make these changes without impacting on the coverage or resilience of our existing networks.”
“It will also allow us to continue to deliver our 5G and full fibre networks without a significant impact on the timescales we’ve previously announced.”
“Whilst we have provided our initial view on the estimated impact today, we will continue to evaluate the details of this decision thoroughly,” he said.