Britain close to final decision on whether to ban Huawei from its 5G networks

Britain close to final decision on whether to ban Huawei from its 5G networks
Despite constant pressure applied by the U.S. not to allow Huawei's networking equipment inside Britain's 5G networks, in January the British announced that it would not heed the warning. Gear from the world's largest networking equipment supplier would be used on the country's 5G networks although the parts would be placed away from sensitive areas. At the time, a spokesman said, "The United States is disappointed by the U.K.’s decision." British Prime Minister Boris Johnson felt that there was no other decision he could make because of Huawei's technological and financial advantages over the competition.

U.S. sanctions against Huawei put more pressure on Britain to remove Huawei from 5G networks


But according to the U.S. government, Huawei is a national security threat because of its rumored ties to the communist Chinese government. Huawei, of course, has denied this repeatedly. The U.S tried to convince Britain that it wouldn't be able to pass along intelligence to its allies if Huawei was involved in the country's 5G network. And finally, there were some cracks in the prime minister's resolve. Bloomberg reports that Johnson could announce as soon as this coming Tuesday's National Security Council meeting that Huawei equipment will be banned from British networks before the end of next year. 


In the U.S. Huawei products, including both phones and networking gear, are banned from use by the military and by telecom firms. Some rural wireless providers have Huawei equipment in their older networks which the current administration would like to see removed.

While the U.S. did apply enough pressure to get the ball rolling in Britain, what really convinced the Brits to think twice about Huawei's presence in its 5G networks was the recent export rule change by the U.S. Under the new rules, a foundry using American technology to produce chips cannot ship any product to Huawei without a license from the U.S. As a result, Huawei could be forced to use "untrusted" chips which greatly lessens the security of any 5G network that employs Huawei's gear. A review in Britain concluded that under these conditions, the country will not be able to control the security of its 5G networks.

The Conservative Party that Prime Minister Johnson belongs to has been pushing for a reversal of the decision to allow Huawei equipment to be used. Bob Seely, a member of the Conservative Party, praised the U.S. sanctions for getting Britain to revisit its initial decision. "The sanctions have changed the dynamic, he said. "The government is listening, and it’s important to give them credit for trying to do the right thing." Seely said that Members of Parliament want a "no new kit date" and a "rip out date." After the former date, no company would be able to install Huawei equipment in Britain. By the latter date, all Huawei equipment would have to be removed in the country. The politician would like to see the "no new kit date" set for late 2021 while there is a debate over where the "rip out date" should fall on the calendar. The range under consideration is a date between 2023 and 2025.

Some Conservatives aren't pushing for such draconian terms. Neil O’Brien said he wasn't so concerned about the timing of the removal of Huawei gear and is also not terribly worried about the removal of equipment from older networks. That's because the latter "will come to the end of its life over a couple of years." That mirrors the comments made by Damian Green who also isn't worried about older equipment. He simply wants to see a new equipment ban "in this parliament by 2024.

The next generation of wireless connectivity, 5G will deliver download data speeds up to ten times faster than 4G LTE. Not only will it allow users to download movies in seconds instead of minutes, but it should also help to create new technologies and businesses.

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