BT/EE Bans Huawei Kit For Core 5G Network

The United Kingdom has become the latest of a growing number of Western countries to place a restriction on the use of telecom equipment from Chinese firm Huawei.

BT has said it will relegate Huawei equipment to non-core parts of its upcoming 5G network, and it will also begin to remove Huawei kit from core elements of the existing 3G and 4G network in the UK.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and deputy chair, has been arrested in Canada. The exact reasons of her arrest has not been released but it is reported that the US is investigating Huawei over possible violation of sanctions against Iran.

BT policy

But BT’s decision to also join the number of countries and firms restricting the use of Huawei is another serious blow for the world’s largest telecom equipment maker.

BT reportedly said in a statement that it is in the process of removing Huawei equipment from the key parts of its 3G and 4G networks to meet an existing internal policy not to have the Chinese firm at the centre of its infrastructure.

“In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G mobile networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006,” BT was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

“We’re applying these same principles to our current RFP (request for proposal) for 5G core infrastructure,” it added. “As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network and a valued innovation partner.”

It is understood that Huawei kit will still be used on the “periphery” of its fixed-line network, i.e. the non-core parts that according to the BBC, is often referred within the industry to being “the dumb stuff at the end of the pipes”.

BT of course is the owner of mobile operator EE, and the carrier has for years used Huawei kit in the roll out of its fibre network in the UK.

The BT development comes after a US delegation visited Europe earlier this month to express the country’s concerns to government officials and telecommunications companies about the use of Huawei kit.

Western ban

The US government had already asked its allies not to use equipment from Huawei.

Huawei for its part continues to reject Western suggestions that the Chinese government is involved in 5G mobile and other communications networks, and says Beijing has no influence over it.

But its protests seem to be falling on deaf ears. Last week Zealand became the latest to clamp down on the use of Huawei kit.

Senior officials in Germany have also recently urged the German government to ban the use of Chinese equipment, like that from Huawei, in their 5G networks.

Australia has already banned the use Huawei technology altogether.

Meanwhile the British government in November had written to telcos, warning them against using equipment makers such as Huawei when rolling out 5G networks, because of an ongoing security review of those Chinese firms.

Canada is thought to have refused to allow Huawei to be involved with the construction of a government communications network.

The US has already largely barred Huawei from supplying to the government, and has placed restrictions on the sale of smartphones made by Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.

In March, the US also blocked Broadcom’s planned hostile acquisition of Qualcomm, saying that the deal could only benefit 5G research plans by Chinese companies such as Huawei.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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