Great Britain

Huawei: UK bans new 5G network equipment from September

Telecoms providers must stop installing Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G networks from next September, the government has said.

The digital secretary, Oliver Dowden, set out a roadmap to remove high-risk vendors ahead of the telecommunications (security) bill coming before parliament.

The legislation would create national security powers capable of imposing controls on when – if at all – a telecoms firm could use material supplied by companies such as Huawei.

In the summer, the government announced that the Chinese firm was to be banned from the most sensitive core parts of UK networks.

It also said it plans to rip out all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by 2027 – decisions that would be enshrined in law by the new bill.

But Dowden has now confirmed that operators must stop installing Huawei equipment in 5G networks from the end of September next year, except for maintaining previously-installed Huawei equipment.

He also published a 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy outlining how the government will ensure the UK is “never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors”.

Dowden said: “Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high-risk vendors from our 5G networks.

“This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security.

“We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks.

“Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks.”

The diversification strategy will see the government spend an initial £250m to begin work on creating a more diverse, competitive and innovative supply market for telecoms.

It includes establishing a National Telecoms Lab research facility, as well as investment in innovative open radio technology.

MPs will debate the bill at second reading in the Commons on Tuesday.

Under the legislation, security protocols around UK networks will also be strengthened with fines – of 10% of turnover or £100,000 a day – for those who do not meet the new standards.

Communications regulator Ofcom is to be tasked with the monitoring and assessing of security protocols among telecoms providers.

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