The UK flag and a smartphone with a Huawei and 5G network logo are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration.(REUTERS/ FILE)
The UK flag and a smartphone with a Huawei and 5G network logo are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration.(REUTERS/ FILE)

After ban on China’s Huawei, UK to diversify 5G suppliers

Britain had decided earlier this year to exclude high-risk vendors from those parts of the 5G and full-fibre networks that are critical to security and also from sensitive locations, and limit their presence in the periphery of those networks, capped at 35%
By Prasun Sonwalkar | Hindustan Times, London
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2020 05:29 PM IST

The UK government on Monday confirmed the complete removal of Chinese telecom giant Huawei from Britain’s existing networks by 2027 and announced a strategy to diversify 5G suppliers so that the country doesn’t rely too much on a select few providers.

The government had decided earlier this year to exclude high-risk vendors from those parts of the 5G and full-fibre networks that are critical to security and also from sensitive locations, and limit their presence in the periphery of those networks, capped at 35%.

In July, in response to further US sanctions against Huawei, the UK government went further by setting a timetable to remove Huawei from 5G networks by the end of 2027. ZTE, another Chinese company, is also considered by London to be “high risk”.

British operators have been told that they should stop procuring Huawei equipment affected by US sanctions by December 31, 2020 and remove Huawei 5G equipment from the network by the end of 2027 at the “absolute latest”.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said, “We are taking bold steps to implement one of the toughest telecom security regimes in the world. A central part of that is combating high-risk vendors, and I have set out an unambiguous timetable for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks no later than 2027.”

He added, “That decision is the right one, but it also risks leaving us overly reliant on too few suppliers. That is a dilemma faced by countries across the globe - and it is one the government is confronting head-on through the publication of this strategy.”

Following the decision to remove Huawei equipment from future networks, the UK is now reliant on two mobile access network equipment suppliers: Nokia and Ericsson. This, the official statement said, represents an “intolerable” resilience risk.

“Therefore, it is essential that we create a more diverse and competitive supply base for telecom networks. A more competitive and diverse supply market will increase quality, innovation and the resilience of our networks,” the statement said.

The 5G supply chain diversification strategy is expected to help mitigate the resilience risks to 5G networks, and includes an initial fund of £250 million to begin work to create a more diverse, competitive, and innovative supply market for the telecom sector.

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