The United Kingdom has officially banned Huawei from its 5G telecom network. This is a reversal from its original decision in January this year to allow Huawei a limited role in building the country’s 5G network.
U.K’s Digital Secretary told the House of Commons the decision, which was arrived at following sanctions imposed on Huawei by the U.S. with claims that the Chinese firm poses a threat to National Security.
The new move will delay U.K’s 5G rollout by a year as the country hopes to have removed all the Huawei Kits by 2027.
“This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the U.K. telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” he said.
The U.S. sanctions, however, only affect Huawei’s future technology, hence the U.K. believes there is no need to remove the 2G, 3G and 4G Huawei equipment already in place.
The government wants service providers to transition away from the purchase and use of Huawei in the full-fibre network. Mr Dowden said he expected the transition to take at least two years. He further explained that the additional time was for broadband to avoid U.K’s dependence on Nokia as its single supplier of some equipment.
Huawei responded to the ban saying it was “bad news for anyone in the U.K. with a mobile phone.” The company also threatened to “move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”
BT and Vodafone warned that some customers could experience mobile blackouts if they are forced to remove Huawei Kits in less time.
The minister said a review carried out by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre was a motivation for the changes.
“Huawei claims to have stockpiles of parts that they can use, but this obviously affects what the NCSC can say about their products going forward,” said blogged Dr Ian Levy, the agency’s technical director.
“We think that Huawei products that are adapted to cope with the [sanctions] are likely to suffer more security and reliability problems because of the massive engineering challenge ahead of them, and it will be harder for us to be confident in their use within our mitigation strategy.”
The decision is a big win for the Donald Trump administration, which has been pushing its allies to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks. Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared “the tide is turning against Huawei as citizens around the world are waking up to the danger of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.”