UK makes dramatic U-turns on Huawei and 5G as it bans supply of equipments

The UK bans Huawei from supplying its network 5G kit
Ernest Sunday

The government of the United Kingdom has confirmed the ban of Huawei company from supplying of 5G related equipment to Telecos. The ban results from the stiff sanction imposed on Huawei by the US, restricting them from its technologies.

Briefing the parliament UK's digital minister said that the new plan would restrict telcos from purchasing 5G kit from Huawei and ZTE is to install new network come at the end of the year. He added that any other Huawei kit has already been installed in the UK's 5G networks must be wiped out at the end of 2027.

The rule still yet to be approved as the order has not been presented to the Members of the Parliament in which they might disapprove on the long time frame for the removal of the already existing Huawei kits.

The telcos Bt has already warned on the quick removal of the existing Huawei kit saying it might cause mobile network out stages, generate high-security risk and also bring delay the upgrade of the UK's fibre broad bandwidth network.

The BT CEO Philip Jansen stressed that a longer time frame is needed to remove the existing Huawei 5G kit to fit in with the government expenses on the next network builds.

Dowden acknowledged that the new plan would cause a delay in the launching of UK's 5G networks but maintained that the government is prioritizing over financial consideration.

"Clearly, since January, the situation has changed. On the 15th of May, the US Department of Commerce announced that new sanctions had been imposed against Huawei through changes to the foreign direct product rules. This was a significant material change and one that we have to take into consideration," Dowden told the parliament.

"These sanctions are not the first attempt by the US to restrict Huawei's ability to supply equipment to 5G networks. They are, however, the first to have potentially severe impacts on Huawei's ability to supply new equipment in the United Kingdom. The new US measures restrict Huawei's abilities to produce important products using US technology or software."

Dowden stated that after looking into the US sanction on the Huawei company, the UK's Cyber Security Center has decided to change their security assessment. He said that the government would publish a review of the advice that pushed to the U-turn.

"Given the uncertainty, this creates around Huawei's supply chain the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment affected by the change in US foreign direct product rules," Dowden stated.

Earlier, the telecom security bill has already scheduled to be introduced before the summer break, but it has further been delayed due to change to the new plan. The initial cost for the project has been increased with an additional half a billion making it £2BN according to Dowden.

"We have not taken this decision lightly, and I must be frank about the consequences for every constituency in this country," he said. "This will delay our rollout of 5G. Our decisions in January had already set back that rollout by a year and cost up to a billion pounds. Today's decision to ban the procurement of new Huawei 5G equipment from the end of this year will delay the rollout by a further year and will add up to half a billion pounds to costs."

He also warned on the risk of shortening the time frame for the removal of the already existing Huawei kit.

"This will have real consequences for the connections on which all our connections relay," "The shorter we make the timetable for removal the greater the risk of actual disruption to mobile networks," he said.

Dowden is already facing a lot of question from the opposition politicians as the plan is quite different from the former plan in the regime of Boris Johnson.

Shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah has stated the UK's network is already shattered and has called on different stakeholders and the task force to provide a way solving the issue.

"This entire saga has shown that the government cannot sort this mess out on their own," she said. "We need a task force of industry representatives, academics, startups, regional government and regulators to develop a plan which delivers a UK [5G] network capability and mobile security network in the shortest possible time frame."

To avoid delay in their 5G implementation UK is already looking for an alternative for the supply of the 5G kit, Dowden said they would go into discussion with other vendors.

"Given there is only one other appropriate scale vendor for full-fibre equipment, we are going to embark on a short technical consultation with operators to understand their supply chain alternatives. So that we can avoid unnecessary delays to our Gigabit ambitions and prevent significant resilience risks," he said.

Dowden added that the UK government is looking into getting support from other countries of the world for diversification.

"We are already engaging extensively with operators and vendors and governments around the world about supporting and accelerating the process of diversification. We recognize that this is a global issue that requires international collaboration to deliver a lasting solution, so we're working with our Five Eyes partners and our friends around the world to bring together a coalition to deliver our shared goals," he added.

We've reached out to Huawei for comment.

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