In an about-face, the UK has announced it is instituting a complete ban of Huawei equipment from its networks.
The US has engaged in a campaign to gets its allies to ban Huawei, as it has done. There are widespread concerns about national security risks, as Huawei has much closer ties to Chinese intelligence than many firms. As a result, it is believed the company is a spying and surveillance threat.
Initially, the UK had opted to include Huawei in its networks, albeit in a lesser role. The company’s equipment was restricted from the more sensitive core network, and could comprise no more than 35% of the UKs’ 5G equipment. In addition, no Huawei equipment could be used near nuclear sites or military bases.
Even that compromise solution was not popular, however, with both US officials and many in Prime Minister Johnson’s own party urging Downing Street to reconsider. Adding further pressure, the US has been ramping up restrictions on Huawei, including cutting it off from one of its main chip suppliers, TSMC.
It appears the combination of factors have led the UK to reverse course, as it has announced a total ban on Huawei equipment. According to the government’s statement:
“Huawei will be completely removed from the UK’s 5G networks by the end of 2027, the government has announced, following new advice produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the impact of US sanctions against the telecommunications vendor.
“Ahead of this there will be a total ban on the purchase of any new 5G kit after 31 December 2020.”
This is sure to hurt Huawei, as the UK was one of the first countries in Europe to welcome the Chinese firm years ago. It also remains to be seen what repercussions there will be, as China has a history of threatening countries over Huawei.