Britain Bans Huawei 5G

The UK government will ban the installation of new Huawei technology in UK telecommunications networks from September of 2021 - much sooner than predicted. 

This new deadline will allow older Huawei equipment to be used in the national telecoms network. The announcement comes ahead of a new law which  introduces strict security regulations on equipment suppliers seeking access to the national network. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said he was pushing for the "complete removal of high-risk vendors" from 5G networks.

Previously, BT's EE division, Vodafone and Three UK would have had until 2027 to install any such equipment acquired before the end of this year, when a purchase ban comes into effect.

This new law will give the British government new powers which will give it the authority to give instructions to big telecoms companies, including BT and Vodafone, which suppliers they may buy equipment from  so-called "high-risk" vendors like Huawei.

Under the new strategy, the government will spend an initial £250m which will involve setting up a National Telecoms Lab research facility as well as investing in open radio technology. Oliver Dowden, the responsible government Minister said that the "new and unprecedented powers" would allow government to "identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security.... We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks.... Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks,"  This follows a political argument, both in the UK and internationally, over Huawei's threat to security and its alleged links to the Chinese state.

The UK had initially decided that Huawei equipment should be removed from the sensitive part of the "core" network, and only make up a maximum of 35% of the non-core systems. with a deadlne set to be 2023.

Huawei vice president and head of UK operations Victor Zhang said in a press release: “This decision is politically-motivated and not based on a fair evaluation of the risks. It does not serve anyone’s best interests as it would move Britain into the digital slow lane and put at risk the Government’s leveling up agenda.”

Britain has identified 5G technology as a promising field for international collaboration and in 2021 it will  hold the rotating presidency of the G7 group of nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) providing a platform for creation of a common policy on telecoms technology and equipment supply. 

Quartz:       Guardian:       BBC:      Financial Times:      C|Net:          SCMP:      Council on Foreign Relations

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