In a reversal of sorts, the United Kingdom has directed all telecom companies of the country to remove all components and equipment from the Chinese telecom equipment making giant Huawei from their 5G networks by 2027. This has renewed a clash between London and Beijing.
Additionally, after the end of the current year, UK telecom companies will also have to stop purchasing 5G equipment from Huawei which is expected to delay the roll out of 5G technology in the country by about a year, says analysts.
“This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” said UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
Over the next two year, telecom operators of the UK have also been ordered to “transition away” from purchasing new Huawei equipment that is used use the full-fibre network.
This reversal of polices towards Huawei was announced after a review meeting of the National Security Council, the conclusions of which were compiled into a report about the upcoming sanctions on the Chinese telecoms company by the United States.
According to the report, there is a high risk of creation of gaps in the supply of vital components from Huawei because of the new sanctions by the United States on the company which are slated to be implemented in September this year.
The new US sanctions “significantly changed their security assessment of Huawei’s presence in 5G,” the NCSC has warned, said Dowden.
“The UK can no longer be confident that it will be able to guarantee Huawei 5G equipment,” he added. “To be clear, from the end of this year, telecoms operators must not buy any new 5G equipment from Huawei.”
In a written suggestion to the largest telecom operators of the UK, the NCSC has already urged them to stockpile of Huawei kit and equipment to safeguard against any shortage of supplies from the company after the US sanctions kick in.
The UK government must end any involvement of the Huawei in building 5G networks in the country, concluded the National Security Council after a meeting that was of chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
According to analysts this decision, which is a U-turn by the UK Government, was taken amidst intense pressure from both the US administration of Donald Trump as well as backbench Tory MPs.
A limited role in the 5G network in the UK could be played by Huawei, ministers had announced in January even though there were warnings that the equipment supplied by the Chinese firm could be put to use for spying by Chinese agencies as well as potentially pose a threat to the critical national infrastructure of the UK.
While denying allegations about its equipment being used for spying by China, executives of Huawei have even offered to sign “no-spy” agreements with governments to prevent their exclusion.
“This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone,” said Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK. “It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is leveling down and we urge them to reconsider.”
(Adapted from Telegraph.co.uk)