UK Decision On Huawei 5G Expected “Pretty Soon” – Defence Minister

The United Kingdom is soon to make a decision as to whether Huawei equipment can be used in its 5G networks.

According to Reuters, when British defence minister Ben Wallace was asked when a decision would be made by the United Kingdom on Huawei, he said on Wednesday “the government will come to its position soon. We will get to a decision pretty soon.”

But Wallace also warned that China has to play by the rules if it wants to get access to Western markets.


Huawei decision

“We will not allow anything to compromise our sensitive networks in the UK but our technical advice is that there are places we can go to mitigate any security risk,” Wallace was quoted by Reuters as saying.

He warned China about its online behaviour in recent years.

“This is more than just technical – this is also about behaviour,” he told reporters. “It wasn’t that long ago that the United Kingdom and other nations called out China publicly for some of its cyber activity. And if we are going to allow countries access to our markets, I think we should all expect a code of behaviour which is fair play.”

The UK is expected to reach a decision in the Autumn. In July an influential group of MPs warned that the next UK prime minister had to make a decision “as a matter of priority” about whether to include Huawei in 5G networks.

The decision was already supposed to have been made, but was delayed by the departure of previous Prime Minister Theresa May.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has previously said there were no technical grounds for a complete ban on the Chinese firm.

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

The US government has repeatedly warned against using any Huawei equipment on national security grounds.

Huawei meanwhile 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 U

Already used

Into this protracted decision making process, Prime Minister Boris Johnstone, has still to reach a decision.

It should be noted that Huawei equipment is already in use in the UK’s existing 5G networks.

Indeed, it is reported that three of the UK’s largest wireless providers (EE, Vodafone, and Three) are all using Huawei to build their 5G networks.

The only exception to this is O2, which has instead opted to use 5G equipment from Ericsson and Nokia.

So any decision to ban completely the Chinese firm will require the equipment to be retroactively removed from the 5G networks built so far by Vodafone, EE, and Three.

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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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