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Ex-BT boss will help diversify U.K. telecoms supply chain

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The government has announced that ex-BT CEO and former trade minister Lord Ian Livingston will lead a new task force that’s working to diversify the U.K.’s telecoms supply chain to reduce reliance on just a handful of firms. It comes after the U.K. banned Huawei from its 5G networks but had only a few companies it could turn to due to a lack of diversity.

With Huawei ploughing lots of money into research and development over the last decade and gaining a major lead in 5G, U.K. telecoms had a limited choice of alternative providers to choose from when Huawei was banned from networks. To address this, the government called for more competition in the sector.

The Telecoms Diversification Task Force, which includes senior figures from Vodafone UK and Openreach, will provide the government with independent expert advice as it works to make the network more diverse.

Commenting on his selection as head of the task force, Lord Livingston, said:

“The UK is already a leading nation in the adoption and use of digital communications.

“It is vital that we position ourselves for the next generation of technology, particularly 5G, by having a wide choice of secure, innovative and high quality suppliers.

“I look forward to chairing this team of experts from industry and academia who can provide advice to government as to how it can best achieve these aims.”

Network providers like Vodafone suggested that the removal of Huawei from the U.K.’s 5G networks would push up prices as alternative suppliers are more expensive. With more competition, however, prices could become more reasonable which will mean customers won’t be burdened with increased phone bills.

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