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After recent rumors about further sanctions, the UK government has outlined its plans to remove Huawei completely from its 5G network by the end of 2027. The purchase of new equipment made by the Chinese company will also be banned from December 31, 2020. Existing 2G, 3G, and 5G network equipment made by Huawei will remain until it is no longer needed, however, as it's deemed too difficult and costly to replace any sooner.
The decision was made today by the UK's National Secuity Council (NSC), chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and communicated by Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, who called it an "irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei from our 5G networks." It follows advice from the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), who in turn took cues from the sanctions imposed by the United States government that has stopped Huawei from doing business with numerous American companies.
Huawei, who had already been banned from 'core' parts of the UK's 5G network, told us that it's disappointed with the latest decision. Spokesperson Edward Brewster said it's "bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone" and that "it threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane." Despite the UK government's concerns, Huawei is convinced it could have continued to work with UK networks without US restrictions having a negative impact. Brewster bemoaned that the situation in the UK had become politicized, adding "this is about US trade policy and not security."
Many within the Conservative and opposition parties are said to believe the sanctions are not strong enough — they want Huawei's removal to come sooner and think that 2G, 3G, and 4G networks should get the same treatment. UK Networks such as BT and Vodafone are also unlikely to be happy with today's decision, either, since it will cost the UK telecoms sector millions of pounds and potentially lead to outages. Huawei was expected to supply around 35% of the country's 5G infrastructure, which will no longer happen, and its role in the UK's high-speed fiber network will also be reconsidered.
Huawei 5G equipment can only be installed up to September next year
The UK government is bringing in a new law that bans network operators from installing Huawei equipment from September 2021. Initially, the plan was to ban the purchase of such technology from the end of this year, but fears of stockpiling forced the UK authorities into further sanctions on installation. While carriers can install Huawei 5G equipment up until September next year, they will still have to phase it out by 2027. The BBC reached out to Huawei, but the Chinese company said it wouldn't be commenting on the matter.