After US sanctions, UK bans Huawei from 5G networks



The Boris Johnson government on Tuesday announced the removal of existing equipment of Chinese Huawei by 2027 and a ban on buying new equipment from the company from December 31 this year, reflecting an escalation of tensions with Beijing.

China has warned the UK of consequences if it were to ban Huawei.

The decision follows pressure from the United States government, which has also banned the company as part of its sanction, and a technical review by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NSC) in response to US sanctions.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement to the House of Commons: “By the time of the next election we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks”.

Officials said the decision was taken on Wednesday in a meeting of the NSC chaired by Johnson, in response to new US sanctions. These were imposed on Huawei in May, after the UK’s initial decision on high risk vendors, and are the first of their kind removing the firm’s access to products which have been built based on US semiconductor technology.

Technical experts at the NCSC reviewed the consequences of the sanctions and concluded the company will need to do a major reconfiguration of its supply chain as it will no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies.

They found the new restrictions make it impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future, the officials added.

There will be a ban on the purchase of new Huawei kit for 5G from next year and it will be completely removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027. The decision takes into account our specific national circumstances and how the risks from these sanctions are manifested in the UK. The existing restrictions on Huawei in sensitive and critical parts of the network remain in place.

The US action also affects Huawei products used in the UK’s full fibre broadband networks. However, officials said the UK has managed Huawei’s presence in the UK’s fixed access networks since 2005, along with the need to avoid a situation where broadband operators are reliant on a single supplier for their equipment.

Dowden said: “5G will be transformative for our country, but only if we have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure it is built upon. “Following US sanctions against Huawei and updated technical advice from our cyber experts, the government has decided it is necessary to ban Huawei from our 5G networks”.

“No new kit is to be added from January 2021, and UK 5G networks will be Huawei free by the end of 2027. This decisive move provides the industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to get on with delivering 5G across the UK”.

The government will now seek to legislate at the earliest opportunity with a new Telecoms Security Bill to put in place the powers necessary to implement this tough new telecoms security framework.

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