BT says it needs more time to remove Huawei equipment from UK networks

The BT Tower in London, UK
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

BT has asked the UK government for an extension to the deadline for removing Huawei equipment from its network.

The UK government confirmed in July 2020 that it would remove Huawei equipment from the country’s 5G network by 2027, following concerns over potential ties between the company and the Chinese government. The decision was spurred by the UK sanctions imposed on Huawei earlier in the year, and was expected to delay the UK's 5G rollout by up to two years.

Telecom operators were also given the deadline of 28 January 2023 to remove all Huawei equipment from the core of the telecoms network and reduce its use in non-core parts to 35%.

However, BT has now made a request to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to extend this deadline, according to The Guardian.

“We are continuing to work towards the January 2023 deadline for that work to happen in our core, but have requested a necessary, short extension, to reflect significant Covid-driven impacts to the programme over the past two years,” BT said.

The government has already granted a six-month extension to July next year for operators to meet the goal of non-core component usage, including in telecoms masts. BT said that the logic behind this decision should also be applied to the core parts removal deadline.

“We continue to liaise with DCMS and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to ensure our programme can be completed as quickly and safely as possible, and remain confident that the final 2027 deadline for delivering new equipment throughout the 5G network is achievable,” said BT.

Following the initial removal order, BT and Vodafone warned in 2020 that they would need at least five years to remove all equipment made by Huawei from the UK’s networks.

If telecoms companies fail to comply with the new security rules for the country’s network, they could face fines of 10% of turnover or £100,000 a day.

"Our proposed measures to control the use of Huawei in UK networks were subject to a targeted consultation and BT was one of a number of affected companies that were consulted,” a DCMS spokesperson told IT Pro. “We're considering all the responses received and will publish our decision in due course."

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.