United Kingdom bans Huawei from its 5G network in reversal
The United Kingdom announced Tuesday that it will ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from its 5G network, a reversal on a decision from earlier this year.
The U.K. had said in January that Huawei technology could be used outside of “core” 5G networks, but changed direction after intense domestic and international pressure, especially from the United States.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said while speaking in Parliament on Tuesday that mobile network operators in the U.K. would have to stop buying equipment from Huawei by the end of the year.
Those operators will also be required to rip out all Huawei gear from their systems by 2027, he said.
Dowden warned that the change would likely cause delays in the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies as well as additional costs, given Huawei’s technological dominance in the space.
“As facts have changed, so has our approach,” he said. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the U.K.’s telecom networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”
Dowden may have been referring to new restrictions imposed on Huawei by the U.S. in May making it harder for the company to source key chip equipment from American suppliers.
Even before those restrictions, U.S. lawmakers pushed hard for the U.K. to reverse its January decision.
Multiple agencies in the U.S. has deemed the Chinese company a national security threat, and intelligence officials have raised concerns about Chinese Communist Party access to networks built by Huawei.
A spokesperson for the company called the U.K.’s decision on Tuesday “disappointing.”
“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 levelling down and we urge them to reconsider,” the Huawei spokesperson said in statement to The Hill.
“We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.”