Sunday, 29 November 2020 17:04

UK expected to bring forward Huawei ban to September 2021 Featured

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UK expected to bring forward Huawei ban to September 2021 Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

The UK will announce on Monday that it is bringing forward to September 2021 the date for banning the use of 5G equipment from Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, a report claims.

The British newspaper The Telegraph said on Saturday that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden would make the announcement in the House of Commons in what it characterised as "a surprise".

In July, the UK said it would ban the use of the Chinese vendor's gear and remove all existing equipment by the end of 2027.

Dowden's expected Monday announcement will coincide with the second reading of the new Telecommunications Security Bill which will put the 2027 date into law.

Britain had announced in January that it would allow Huawei to supply up to 35% of gear for the non-core parts of 5G networks.

Based on this decision, which was leaked last May well before it was officially announced, Vodafone, O2, EE (a BT unit) and Three all rolled out 5G networks, and used Huawei gear in non-core parts of the network. Spanish group Telefonica owns O2 and it has used Huawei’s infrastructure in some of its other networks. O2 has no wide use of Huawei in the UK, but has a network-sharing agreement with Vodafone.

Following US pressure, applied on Prime Minister Boris Johnson when Washington was approached about a trade deal, Britain agreed to review its earlier stance. New American strictures imposed on Huawei in May have been taken to mean that any risk mitigation which was possible earlier would not be possible now.

There was no specific reason given for advancing the date for removal of the Huawei equipment.

The US has been on a crusade for the last few years, asking countries not to use the company's gear, claiming that it is a security risk, but providing no proof to substantiate these claims.

Huawei, a private company owned by its employees, has always strenuously denied that it is in any way a security risk.

Washington has campaigned for more than two years to try and push countries it considers allies to avoid using 5G equipment from Huawei in their networks. Thus far, Australia and Vietnam have said openly that they would follow the US' lead.

Sweden recently became the third country to say so openly, but a court later suspended sections of a decision that had excluded the company from participating in Swedish spectrum bids. The spectrum auction itself was put on hold.

Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Poland have indicated that they are likely to toe the US line, but have yet to make public pronouncements about what policy they would follow.

iTWire has contacted Huawei Australia for comment.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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