UK to Remove Huawei From 5G Network by 2027

UK to Remove Huawei From 5G Network by 2027
A smartphone with the Huawei and 5G network logo is seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture taken on Jan. 29, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters)
Mary Clark

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned Huawei from further input into the UK’s telecoms infrastructure by the end of 2020, and set a deadline of 2027 for the stripping out of existing kit from the country’s 5G network, it was announced in Parliament today.

The reversal has come amid fears of the potential for spying and sabotage on the part of the Chinese telecoms giant, who are alleged to be linked to the Chinese state.

The government’s proposal to remove Huawei from the UK network was delivered by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon.
The statement outlined how, after the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Huawei in May preventing the company from using U.S. technology and software in manufacturing its equipment, the UK government was following new security advice to discontinue the use of Huawei equipment in the 5G network.

Dowden said that because of the sanctions, the government can “no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment.”

Telecommunications companies will be banned from buying Huawei equipment at the end of the year, and will need to remove Huawei equipment from existing systems by the end 2027.

Full-fibre broadband operators were also advised to move away from purchasing Huawei equipment.

The legislation will be set out in a Telecoms Security Bill that will be presented to the House of Commons in the autumn.

“By the time of the next election we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks,” Dowden said in a statement to Parliament.

In a statement, Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK, said: “This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”
He urged the UK to reconsider, saying the issue had become politicised, and that the “new U.S. restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.”

Johnson, who chaired a meeting of the National Security Council this morning, had faced calls from a 60-strong lobby of his own backbench MPs to remove the controversial company from the 5G infrastructure.

He has also been under increasing pressure from the United States to cut ties with Huawei.

Reports that Huawei’s UK chairman, John Browne, the former head of BP, is stepping down months before the end of his contract, preceded the government announcement only by hours.

The important announcement comes whilst UK’s top security official Sir Mark Sedwill is set to meet U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien in Paris for talks on Huawei.