UK has recently annouced that “Huawei’s networking equipment is to be phased out of the UK’s 5G networks”. Telecoms operators will not be allowed to buy new 5G telecoms equipment from the Chinese firm from January next year, and they will have seven years to remove its existing technology from their 5G infrastructure at an expected cost of £2 billion. The announcement follows a new report about Huawei’s role in the UK’s national infrastructure from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.
The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden warned that the decision will delay our rollout of 5G. As part of the announcement, the government said that it is also advising full fiber broadband operators to transition away from buying Huawei’s equipment.
In recent months, the British government has seen mounting pressure, both domestically and internationally, to phase out the use of Huawei’s equipment entirely. That pressure has been driven by concern from security experts that Huawei’s equipment poses a national security risk by allowing Beijing to spy on Western countries. Huawei has strenuously denied these allegations.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also facing pressure from inside his own party. The government suffered the biggest defeat of its current term back in March, when BBC News reports 38 Conservative MPs voted against the government in favor of an amendment calling for an end to the use of Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G networks by 2023.
Increasing numbers of Conservative MPs claim that the equipment poses a national security risk, potentially allowing Beijing to spy on the UK, according to the Financial Times. Although the government won the vote, the incident put pressure on Johnson to take a tougher stance.
Responding to the news, a spokesperson from Huawei called the decision disappointing and said that the company is confident the new US sanctions wouldn’t affect the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK. It claimed that they were driven by US trade policy rather than security and urged the British government to reconsider its decision.