UK opts to cut Huawei from 5G networks
Move to ban Chinese company will stoke tension between the UK and China
London — Huawei Technologies will be banned from providing equipment for the UK’s next-generation mobile networks from the end of 2020, in a sweeping crackdown on the Chinese company that could crank up tension between London and Beijing.
Under the blueprint agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, operators will not be able to add any new Huawei components to their 5G networks after December 31. All equipment made by the Shenzhen-based company that has already been installed will need to be removed from 5G infrastructure by 2027, says the government.
Johnson, senior ministers and top security chiefs signed off on the plan at a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday before culture secretary Oliver Dowden set out the details to parliament.
“There is of course no such thing as a perfectly secure network,” Dowden told the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The decision to strip Huawei’s kit out of British networks is a major reversal by Johnson, and threatens to fuel the row between the UK and China at a sensitive time. China has warned Johnson will face “consequences” if the UK treats it as a “hostile partner.”
The US banned Huawei in May from sourcing microchips that use American technology, a move that forced British officials to reassess their view of the security and sustainability of using the company’s equipment in 5G networks. “This was a significant and material change,” Dowden said. These sanctions have “potentially severe impacts” on Huawei’s ability to supply equipment to the UK, he said.
British phone companies now face a complex and expensive task to remove Huawei gear from their networks over the next seven years. Dowden warned the decision would also delay the 5G networks rollout in the UK.
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