The UK will remove Huawei equipment from its 5G networks by 2027
Today’s announcement covers 5G infrastructure, specifically. The UK has used Huawei’s telecommunications equipment for some time, though, in both its mobile and fibre broadband networks. BT, which owns mobile network operator EE, confirmed in December 2018 that it had already started removing Huawei equipment from its 4G network. It’s not clear how much remains at this time and whether the government has any plans to completely outlaw the company’s gear in 3G and 4G-related infrastructure.
The UK government has hinted, however, that it would like to slowly phase out Huawei’s presence in the nation’s fibre broadband. It’s now “advising” network operators to “transition away” from purchasing new Huawei equipment, and is running a technical consultation to determine what the timeframe should be. “We expect this period to last no longer than two years,” the UK government said in a press release.
The announcement follows the US government’s decision to ban American companies from buying telecom equipment with a perceived national security risk. Many politicians and security experts believe that Huawei is a secret surveillance vehicle for the Chinese government — a position the company has always denied — and therefore untrustworthy.
The US market dwarfs the UK in size and influence. Still, losing the latter will undoubtedly damage Huawei’s business.
According to Sky News, Lord Browne of Madingley, the UK chairman of Huawei Technologies, has told the company “in the last few days” that he will step down in September.