By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Kingdom on Tuesday banned Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei, from supplying new equipment to the country’s 5G network, rescinding earlier support granted by the Boris Johnson government.
In a meeting, Mr Johnson’s National Security Council agreed on Tuesday that existing Huawei equipment must also be stripped from 5G networks by 2027, with a promise that it could be earlier than that.
This line of action follows sanctions imposed by the United States, which claims the firm poses a national security threat – something Huawei denies.
Operators will not be able to purchase 5G components from Huawei from the end of this year and were told to remove all existing Huawei gear made by the Chinese telecoms behemoth from the 5G network by 2027.
“The NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) has now reported to ministers, that they have significantly changed their security assessment of Huawei’s presence in the UK’s 5G network,” said Media Secretary Oliver Dowden to the House of Commons after Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council (NSC).
The NSC, attended by senior ministers and security chiefs, concluded that further US sanctions on Huawei, introduced in May, meant that the Chinese company’s equipment could no longer be fully trusted for use in Britain’s new telecoms infrastructure.
He admitted the ban on Huawei could delay the full rollout of 5G networks in Britain by two years and add hundreds of millions of pounds to its costs.
The UK’s full-fibre broadband operators will also be given two years to “transition” away from the purchase of Huawei equipment. However, the Chinese company’s existing kit used for 2G, 3G and 4G networks is deemed secure and will not have to be removed.
The 5G decision represents a significant strategic victory for US President Donald Trump, whose administration has been urging Mr Johnson to kick Huawei out of Britain on security grounds for months.
Mr Trump’s latest sanctions would stop Huawei using US-made chips in its equipment, raising the prospect that the company would have to rely on China-made alternatives.
Earlier in the year, the British government agreed that Huawei company could take up to a 35 per cent share of the 5G market, a decision which disturbed the American government.
The decision is a huge blow for Huawei, which has operated in Britain for 20 years. Europe is a key market for the company, accounting for 24 per cent of sales last year.
Huawei on Monday announced half-year results earlier than usual, reporting slower revenue growth. The company is already experiencing a decline in smartphone sales, after the US blocked it from accessing popular Google apps, a decision many believe has made the phone less attractive in markets outside of China.
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