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British officials recommend ‘limited role’ for Huawei in 5G networks

Jasper Hart
January 23, 2020

National Security Council decision to come next week

Senior UK government officials have proposed allowing Huawei a limited role in its 5G networks, flouting the USA’s recommendation of a complete ban on the vendor.

Reuters has reported that at a meeting of senior government officials on Wednesday (January 22), a recommendation was made to bar Huawei from ‘core’ parts of the network and restricted government systems.

The proposal is not final, and comes ahead of a meeting of the National Security Council which will decide how the vendor’s equipment is deployed in the network.

It is in line with what former Prime Minister Theresa May recommended, the leaking of which led to the sacking of defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

Earlier this month, the head of MI5 Andrew Parker said he saw “no reason to think” that letting Huawei into the UK’s networks would disrupt its intelligence relationships.

Parallel Wireless CEO Steve Papa called on operators to consider healthy competition in terms of who they allow to build their networks.

“Even though Huawei technology will play a role in the development of the UK’s 5G networks, operators should look at how they can use more secure and flexible technology suppliers,” he said. “Operators need more competition in their supply chains, promoting more innovation, and reducing the cost of improving rural 4G and rolling-out 5G.

“Operators in Europe, including Vodafone have already seen the value in this approach. Vodafone is planning to put its entire European network up for tender to technology suppliers that can enable more open networks. This is a good opportunity for the UK’s telecoms industry to re-evaluate the technology it is using and change the economics of delivering connectivity to their customers.”

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: “The work on the issue of high risk vendors in the 5G network remains ongoing and when it is completed it will be announced to parliament.”

Huawei, as well as BT and Vodafone, who have both argued against a ban, declined to comment.

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