UK to ban Huawei from 5G networks 'within weeks'

The NCSC is expected to recommend restricting Huawei equipment in the nation's 5G infrastructure

Huawei shop

Prime minister Boris Johnson is soon expected to introduce a ban on telecoms firms using Huawei equipment in Britain’s 5G networks, before accelerating plans to remove equipment from existing networks.

The GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has found that US sanctions will have a “severe” effect on Huawei’s supply chain, meaning the Chinese company may have to use "untrusted" technology, according to the Sunday Telegraph

Officials, as a result, are preparing measures to stop installing new Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G networks within six months, as well as to speed up plans to remove Huawei-manufactured technology that’s already in place by 2029. 

This would be a significant gear change from the NCSC recommendations made in January, which suggested the government should allow telecoms companies to use Huawei on the peripheries of their networks.

Under the initial recommendations, Huawei was restricted to supplying 35% of the hardware that connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.

Action by the US against the likes of Huawei has escalated in recent weeks, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week officially designating ZTE and Huawei as national security threats. US telecoms firms, as a result, can’t use a multi-billion-dollar pool of government subsidies from which to purchase networking equipment from either company. 

Actions such as this spurred the NCSC to re-examine Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G networks in May this year, despite previous rulings on the matter. The question as to whether using Huawei equipment would pose a security risk was, for all intents and purposes, settled in January. However, the effects of US trade restrictions on Huawei’s supply chain may have changed matters, forcing the NCSC to look again.

The report, which has been examined by Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will be presented to the prime minister this week, with a formal announcement expected before 22 July. 

The expected course of action stands in contrast with decisions made by other nations facing comparable dilemmas. France, for example, has decided against completely banning the use of equipment from the Chinese networking giant. 

After the US government urged its allies to exclude Huawei equipment from 5G networks, the head of France’s ANSSI cyber security agency said it would push telecoms firms not to switch over to Huawei, according to Reuters

“We are working closely with our customers to find ways of managing the proposed US restrictions so the UK can maintain its current lead in 5G,” Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said. “As ever, we remain open to discussions with the Government.

“We believe it is too early to determine the impact of the proposed restrictions, which are not about security, but about market position. All our world-leading products and solutions use technology and components over which the UK government has strict oversight. Our technology is already extensively used in 5G networks across the country and has helped connect people throughout lockdown.”

Featured Resources

How to choose an AI vendor

Five key things to look for in an AI vendor

Download now

The UK 2020 Databerg report

Cloud adoption trends in the UK and recommendations for cloud migration

Download now

2021 state of email security report: Ransomware on the rise

Securing the enterprise in the COVID world

Download now

The impact of AWS in the UK

How AWS is powering Britain's fastest-growing companies

Download now

Most Popular

Q&A: Enabling transformation

Q&A: Enabling transformation

10 Jun 2021
OnePlus 9 Pro review: An instant cult classic

OnePlus 9 Pro review: An instant cult classic

7 Jun 2021
Ten-year-old iOS 4 recreated as an iPhone app

Ten-year-old iOS 4 recreated as an iPhone app

10 Jun 2021