UK telcos could be fined £100,000 a day for breaching Huawei ban

Smartphone displaying Huawei logo, UK flag in background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The UK government has introduced a new bill which could see telecommunications companies fined up to £100,000 a day or 10% of their revenues if they violate the ban on Huawei equipment.

The Telecommunications Security Bill aims to improve the UK’s security standards as well as diminish the threat of operators using high-risk vendors such as Chinese tech giant Huawei, which was banned from being used in the UK’s 5G infrastructure back in July.

China, along with Russia, North Korea, and Iran, has been accused of orchestrating “a range of cyber attacks” against the UK. According to the UK government, the newly-introduced Security Bill “will be a significant step to protect the UK from hostile cyber activity by state actors or criminals”.

Although Huawei has been banned from the UK’s critical infrastructure on the grounds of national security, the tech giant is still allowed to supply its equipment for other use.

The newly-introduced Security Bill will provide the government with the power to oversee telecoms’ use of goods, services or facilities supplied by high-risk vendors such as Huawei, with Ofcom being entrusted to monitor and assess the security of telecoms providers.

If found to fall short on the new security standards, operators could face heavy fines of up to 10% of revenues or, in the case of a continued breach, £100,000 a day.

Commenting on the announcement, digital secretary Oliver Dowden said the groundbreaking bill will give the UK one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world and allow us to take the action necessary to protect our networks”.

According to NCSC technical director Dr Ian Levy, “the roll-out of 5G and gigabit broadband presents great opportunities for the UK”.

“But as we benefit from these we need to improve security in our national networks and operators need to know what is expected of them,” he added. “We are committed to driving up standards and this bill imposes new telecoms security requirements, which will help operators make better risk management decisions.”

In a statement given to IT Pro, Huawei vice president Victor Zhang, said: ‘’It’s disappointing that the Government is looking to exclude Huawei from the 5G roll out.

"This decision is politically-motivated and not based on a fair evaluation of the risks. It does not serve anyone’s best interests as it would move Britain into the digital slow lane and put at risk the Government’s levelling up agenda.”

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.