UK mobile networks set to remove Huawei 5G equipment

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Mobile customers in the UK could face price increases following a decision today by the government to ban Huawei from mobile networks in the country. The government, after receiving pressure from backbench Conservative MPs, has decided to ban the purchase of Huawei 5G equipment from December 31; existing hardware must also be removed from networks by 2027. The announcement comes days after BT and Vodafone warned of mobile blackouts if forced to remove Huawei equipment.

The re-evaluation of Huawei’s place in 5G networks came after the United States applied sanctions to the company citing national security concerns. Previously, the UK was OK with Huawei’s presence as long as it was not included in the cores of the networks. According to the BBC, the new restrictions will also affect Huawei’s broadband hardware.

Responding to the decision by the UK, Edward Brewster, Spokesperson of Huawei UK, said:

"This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.

Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy and not security. Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.

We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain."

Ever since the UK came to its first decision over Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks, the UK government has held to the sensible notion that equipment in mobile networks should come from a range of companies. As it stands, the only major alternatives to Huawei in the sector are Ericsson and Nokia, which provide more expensive equipment. At the time, the government said it was going to encourage open standards which would reduce barriers to entry in the sector so more players could get involved.

Concerning broadband equipment, the government has said that there will be a two-year transition window which will provide more time for diversification of hardware from different suppliers. It said that Nokia is dominant in this sector too and it doesn’t want the firm to have a monopoly.

The government said that the U.S. sanctions only affect future equipment from Huawei and therefore doesn’t believe there is any justification for removing 2G, 3G, or 4G equipment from networks. As most people are still using 4G devices, they should not notice any interference with data connections.

Source: BBC News

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