UK government begins consultation on the next legal steps to restrict Huawei in Britain’s mobile and fixed line telecoms networks
The British government has begun a consultation of its proposed legal instruments to control the use of Huawei in UK networks.
It comes after the UK government, after many delays, had in July 2020 ordered all UK operators to remove equipment from ‘high risk vendors’ such as Huawei from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, over national security concerns.
In order to satisfy this order, 4G equipment from Huawei will also have to be removed.
Huawei for its part has always denied it presents a security risk, but UK telecom operators have already begun removing 5G kit.
As the next step in this process, the government is now required by the new Telecommunications (Security) Act to consult with industry on the proposed measures which would bring these controls on Huawei onto a legal footing.
The government said that the Telecommunications (Security) Act became law in November.
This gives the government the legal mechanism to restrict the use of high risk vendor equipment in public networks “where deemed necessary and proportionate in the interests of national security.”
The legal instruments the government is consulting on are known as a ‘designated vendor direction’, which contains requirements that public telecoms providers would need to follow regarding use of Huawei equipment and services; and a ‘designation notice’ which categorises Huawei as a high-risk vendor.
The consultation will last for four weeks and is only open to public communications providers which would receive the direction, and Huawei, as the proposed designated vendor.
The direction legally requires telecoms operators to:
- Remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027.
- Not install Huawei equipment in 5G networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the final direction.
- Remove all Huawei equipment from the core of telecoms networks by 28 January 2023.
- Not install sanctions-affected Huawei equipment in full fibre networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the direction. This includes any equipment for which the supply chain or manufacturing process has been altered due to the impact of US sanctions.
- Reduce the share of Huawei equipment to 35 per cent of the full fibre and 5G access (i.e. non-core) networks by 31 July 2023, six months later than previously announced due to the difficulties providers have faced during the pandemic.
- Remove Huawei high data rate intra-core and inter-operator transmission equipment – hardware which sends data across a network without processing it – from all networks by 31 December 2025.
“The government is committed to ensuring the security and resilience of our phone and internet networks,” said digital Sscretary Nadine Dorries.
“Last year we brought in new laws to protect UK infrastructure from high-risk vendors and issue tough sanctions on providers which fall short of our high security standards,” said Dorries. “This consultation marks the next step in removing the risks posed by Huawei.”
The government insisted these moves will not impact the rollout of ultrafast gigabyte broadband in the UK.