The U.K. announced Tuesday it will ban Huawei from its 5G networks, in a significant U-turn by the government that could significantly dent relations with China while appeasing the U.S.
Speaking in Parliament, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said mobile network operators in the country would be forced to stop buying equipment from Huawei by the end of the year. They will also be required to strip out Huawei gear from their infrastructure by 2027.
It’s a major reversal for the U.K., which in January gave Huawei restricted access to the country’s next-generation mobile networks. Under previous guidelines, mobile network operators were required to reduce the share of Huawei kit in noncore parts of their infrastructure to 35% by 2023.
But that decision was complicated by new sanctions imposed on Huawei by the U.S. in May. These restrictions mean the Chinese firm will no longer be able to source key chip equipment from trusted American suppliers. The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center initiated an emergency review of Huawei shortly after the U.S. curbs were introduced.
Dowden said the move will delay the U.K.’s rollout of 5G mobile internet, which promises super-fast data speeds and increased network capacity. Banning procurement of new Huawei gear and reducing the Chinese vendor’s market share to zero by 2027 would result in an “accumulative delay” of up to three years and cost as much as £2 billion ($2.5 billion), he warned.
“This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the U.K.’s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy both now and indeed in the long run,” Dowden told lawmakers.
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