Huawei ban from UK 5G network brought forward to September

LaToya Harding
·3 min read
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 27: People visit the Huawei booth during 2020 World 5G Convention at Nan Fung International Convention & Exhibition Center on November 27, 2020 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China. (Photo by Li Zhihao/VCG via Getty Images)
Although the new deadline is earlier than expected, maintaining old Huawei equipment will still be permitted. Photo: Li Zhihao/VCG via Getty Images

The UK government is set to tell telecommunications providers to stop installing Huawei equipment in the country from the end of September 2021.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden is expected to outline a plan for the complete removal of high risk vendor equipment from the UK’s 5G networks in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

It comes as the Telecommunications (Security) Bill has its second parliamentary reading. In July, the government announced that operators should stop procuring new Huawei equipment from the end of 2020 and remove all Huawei equipment by the end of 2027 to protect the country from cyber threats.

Although the new deadline is earlier than expected, maintaining old Huawei equipment will still be permitted.

Dowden said: “Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks. This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security.

“We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks. Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks.”

The discussions of removal of the Chinese firm from the network has been ongoing for over a year.

US officials have voice concern that Huawei’s involvement in 5G could allow the Chinese government to spy on sensitive communications. The Trump administration introduced sanctions on the company, limiting its ability to use American-made chips.

There were also fears that firms could stockpile kit and install it later.

Currently, telecoms providers are responsible by law for setting their own security standards in their networks. However, the ‘Telecoms Supply Chain Review’ concluded by the government last year found providers often have little incentive to adopt the best security practices, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said previously.

READ MORE: China's Huawei banned from UK 5G network

If the bill is approved by Parliament, telecoms companies in the UK must follow the new rules or face fines of up to 10% of turnover or £100,000 ($133,363) a day for failing to meet standards.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom will also be given stronger powers to monitor and assess operators’ security, alongside enforcing compliance with the proposed law.

The bill will come alongside a £250m strategy to diversify the 5G telecoms market with plans for a world-class National Telecoms Lab and trials with Japanese vendor NEC.

This will see the government work on creating a more diverse, competitive and innovative supply market for telecoms in the nation, as well as investment in innovative open radio technology.

Over the weekend it was also announced that a new government-backed testing facility is being created in Oxfordshire, offering UK businesses the chance to tap into the potential of 5G and satellite technology.

The engineering hub is set to be built by the IT and business consultancy CGI in the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

It is being backed by over £3m of government investment and is due for completion in 2021.

The new site will both provide a base for UK researchers and businesses to experiment and a testing facility to showcase the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks.

The government aims to roll out the techniques to other businesses across the UK.

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