UK Bans Installation of Huawei 5G Equipment From September

Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP via Getty Images
  • The U.K. said in July that carriers would have to stop buying Huawei 5G equipment by year-end and strip out its kit from their infrastructure by 2027.
  • It has now laid out a roadmap to phase out Huawei, with one key measure being a ban on installation of the firm's 5G gear from September 2021.
  • U.K. lawmakers will debate the new Telecommunications Security Bill at a second reading in Parliament on Monday.

LONDON — Britain on Monday detailed plans to phase out Huawei from its 5G networks, setting a September 2021 deadline for carriers to stop installing the Chinese firm's gear.

The U.K. government decided to ban 5G equipment from Huawei over the summer, reversing course after heightened pressure from the United States. Westminster had initially allowed Huawei a limited role in the U.K's 5G deployment.

Washington has imposed devastating sanctions on Huawei, claiming the Shenzhen-based company could enable the government in Beijing to spy on sensitive communications. For its part, Huawei denies the U.S. allegations.

In July, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said mobile network operators would be forced to stop buying Huawei equipment from the end of 2020 and to strip out the firm's gear from their infrastructure entirely by 2027.

Supply chain diversification

Now, Dowden has laid out a roadmap to reduce Huawei's 5G market share in the country to zero.

One key measure is a ban on the installation of Huawei equipment in 5G networks from Sept. 30, 2021. Carriers will, however, be allowed to maintain Huawei equipment installed before this date.

Meanwhile, the U.K. is also set to spend £250 million ($333 million) to help diversify its 5G supply chain. The government is creating a National Telecoms Lab research facility and funding a trial with Japan's NEC to develop innovative open radio technology for 5G.

"Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks," Dowden said in a statement Monday.

"This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security."

Huawei declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. The firm has already warned of the economic damage the U.K. ban would inflict, claiming it could delay the rollout of high-speed 5G internet in the country by a number of years.

British lawmakers will debate the new Telecommunications Security Bill — which encompasses the new rules on Huawei — at a second reading in Parliament on Monday.

Last week, it was announced that U.K. carriers would be fined up to 10% of their revenues or £100,000 ($133,000) a day if they fail to comply with the rules.

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