The UK’s big play against Huawei all comes to a head next September.
Mobile providers will not be allowed to install new Huawei gear in the UK’s 5G mobile network from the end of Sept. 2021, according to the government.
The ban was announced in July, after the government reversed its decision to allow the Chinese tech company to have a role in 5G networks across the UK. This came after pressure from within the country’s conservative party, but also significantly from the U.S., following sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump on Huawei on the grounds of national security.
A new law, the Telecommunications (Security) Bill, is up for its second parliamentary reading on Tuesday, and if passed will be used to officially restrict the use of Huawei’s services in Britain’s 5G networks — and issue big fines to networks found not complying (up to ten per cent of turnover or £100,000 a day).
According to the government, all Huawei 5G equipment must be removed from networks by 2027. Telecoms providers are allowed to keep and maintain existing Huawei gear in their networks used to support systems like 4G after September next year. As stipulated in the initial announcement, operators buying new Huawei 5G equipment will be banned after Dec. 31 2020.
The UK’s digital secretary Oliver Dowden unveiled the new 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy on Monday, a roadmap which outlines the government’s plans, and approach to “grow our telecoms supply chain while ensuring it is resilient to future trends and threats.” The strategy identifies the timeline for the removal of “high risk vendors” from the network, as well as ways to support existing suppliers and attract new suppliers into the UK market.
The strategy will also see the government spend an initial £250 million to fund new projects including a new Open RAN (open radio access networks) trial with Japanese telecoms vendor NEC in Wales, which will test solutions to deploy 5G networks, and the establishment of a new National Telecoms Lab, a research facility that will test new ways of increasing security.
“Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks. This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security,” said Dowden in a press statement.
“We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks.”
Huawei has not yet issued public comment, but condemned the decision in July, calling it “bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone,” something that would “move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”