UK To Make Huawei 5G Decision By The Autumn – Minister

The United Kingdom’s protracted decision-making process over whether to authorise the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks will be made in the coming months.

This was the confirmation from a government minister, and comes amid intense pressure from the United States on its allies to ban the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks over national security concerns.

It should be remembered that most of the UK’s major telecoms networks are working with China’s Huawei on next-generation 5G networks, in spite of the lack of clarity over whether the government intends to impose a ban on the equipment maker.

Huawei 5G

EE, Vodafone and Three are all said to use Huawei equipment for their 5G networks. Three UK is readying its 5G network for an August launch.

Only O2, which will launch its 5G network in October, has said it would not be using Huawei equipment in its 5G build out, instead opting for kit from the likes of Nokia and Ericsson.

O2 it should be noted acts as a virtual network operator (VNO) for other players in the mobile sector including Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Lycamobile.

It comes the UK’s National Security Council (NSC) in April had agreed to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the 5G network such as antennas and other “non-core” infrastructure.

But that decision was leaked to the media, and the resulting government investigation into the leak saw the firing of then defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

Autumn decision

But now it seems that the government’s protracted decision-making process over the use of Huawei 5G equipment could soon be reached.

The UK will make a decision on whether to allow China’s Huawei equipment to be used in its 5G networks in the autumn, the digital minister Nicky Morgan has reportedly said.

“We will make the right decision for the UK. I would hope we could do something by the autumn,” Morgan told BBC radio. Autumn in the UK runs from mid September to December.

“We’ve got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure that we keep all our networks secure.”

Last month the House of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said that the next UK prime minister has to make a decision “as a matter of priority”.

The UK government also said last month that it had delayed making a decision on where to ban Huawei equipment on national security grounds, without giving a timeframe.

Huawei has consistently denied it poses a national security risk, and in June the Chinese ambassador to the UK warned that excluding Huawei from Britain’s 5G network “sends a very bad signal” to other Chinese firms looking to invest in UK.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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