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Thursday,October 29,2020 16:34 PM

UK bans Huawei from its 5G network

By AFP

Added 14th July 2020 05:36 PM

It follows the announcement in May of further US sanctions against Huawei

UK bans Huawei from its 5G network

It follows the announcement in May of further US sanctions against Huawei

Huawei is to be stripped out of Britain's 5G phone networks by 2027, a date that puts Boris Johnson on a collision course with a group of Conservative rebels who want the Chinese company eliminated quicker and more comprehensively.

Oliver Dowden, the UK culture secretary, also announced that no new Huawei 5G kit can be bought after 31 December this year - but disappointed the rebels by saying that older 2G, 3G and 4G kit can remain until it is no longer needed.

He declared that the UK will be on an "irreversible path" to eliminating "high-risk vendors" such as Huawei in 5G by the time of the next general election in 2024, in an attempt to placate some MPs.

The decision represents an enforced U-turn on a previous decision to allow Huawei to supply 35% of the UK's 5G equipment, and a compromise with BT and Vodafone, who warned there could be phone "outages" if they were forced to act sooner.

Last week, China warned Britain it could face repercussions in terms of its international reputation as a trading nation if it backed down on Huawei.

It follows the announcement in May of further US sanctions against Huawei, preventing it from using microchips from American suppliers.

Johnson infuriated US President Donald Trump and upset some members of his own Conservative party by allowing the Chinese 5G leader to help roll out Britain's speedy new data network in January.

The UK was then completing its tortured departure from the European Union and looking to establish strong ties with powerful Asian economies that could fulfil Johnson's vision of a "global Britain".

But the Trump administration told Johnson's government that its decision imperilled intelligence sharing and could even result in the Pentagon relocating some fighter jets from its English base.

Washington believes the private Chinese company could either spy for Beijing or shut down rival countries' 5G networks in times of war.

Huawei has always denied this and pointed to two decades of cooperation with British security agencies that checked on the safety of its existing 3G and 4G networks.

The British review was triggered by new US sanctions in May that blocked Huawei's access to US chips and semiconductors at the heart of 5G networks.

The restriction raised the possibility of Huawei having to switch from trusted US suppliers to alternatives whose safety could not be guaranteed by UK security agencies.

'Outages'

Johnson is coming under growing political pressure to not only dump Huawei but also adopt a tough line with China for its treatment of Hong Kong and repression of ethnic Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region.

But he also pledged to voters last year to bring broadband access to all Britons by 2025.

British telecoms companies have warned that stripping out all existing Huawei equipment could cost them billions and take years to implement.

BT chief executive Philip Jansen said Monday that Britain could suffer "outages" and potential security risks if the sector was forced to stop dealing with the Chinese firm.

"If you were to try and not have Huawei at all (in 5G activities) ideally we'd want seven years and we could probably do it in five," he said.

Huawei appeared resigned to eventually losing the British market after fighting the decision for months.

Its executives reportedly wrote to Johnson's office requesting that Britain's ban on the installation of new Huawei equipment only take effect at the end of 2021.

Huawei also reportedly wants the deadline for all its gear to be stripped of Britain to take effect after June 2025.

Johnson's government originally allowed Huawei to roll out up to 35 percent of Britain's 5G network under the condition that it stays out of "core" elements dealing with personal data.

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