Earlier this year, the UK government announced that it would allow the Chinese tech giant to build parts of Britain’s 5G network despite growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The UK will ban the purchase of 5G components from Huawei starting from the end of the year, the country’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Tuesday.
The minister added that this decision was about ‘the long-term security of our telecoms’.
The ban will delay the rollout of the 5G network in the country by a further year, Dowden said. He also said that the UK will have to approach fibre and older mobile networks differently.
Commenting on possible alternatives to Huawei, Dowden said that the UK is working with the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and that there is need to protect European companies Ericsson and Nokia.
“The first thing we need to do is ensure that we protect the other two vendors in this market so Nokia, and Ericsson. Secondly, we need to get new suppliers in, that starts with Samsung, and it starts with NEC,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
Network equipment providers Nokia and Ericsson said they were ready to replace Huawei in the UK, according to a statement obtained by AFP.
“We have the capacity and expertise to replace all of the Huawei equipment in the UK’s networks at scale and speed,” Nokia CEO for the UK and Ireland Cormac Whelan said, as quoted by the agency.
In a separate statement, President of Europe and Latin America at Ericsson, Arun Bansal, said:
“We stand ready to work with the UK operators to meet their timetable, with no disruption to customers.”
According to Reuters, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired the National Security Council meeting on Tuesday which came up with the decision to ban the purchase 5G components from the end of 2020 and to remove all existing Huawei gear from the 5G network by 2027.
The tech giant has commented on the UK’s decision by calling its “disappointing” and saying that it “threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.” It urged the UK government to reconsider its decision.
“This is about US trade policy, not security,” the company said.
A Change of Heart
In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Huawei would be allowed to build parts of Britain’s 5G network. This decision sparked outrage in the Trump administration, with Washington claiming that allowing Huawei to work on the 5G network in the UK would put intelligence sharing at risk. Washington insists that Huawei could use its equipment to spy for Beijing. The tech giant has repeatedly denied such allegations.
In May, the US banned Huawei from accessing US chips and semiconductors that the company had planned to use it its 5G networks. This restriction forced Huawei to look for other suppliers whose safety could not be guaranteed by British security agencies.
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