A schedule for the complete removal of high-risk vendor gear from Britain’s 5G networks has been outlined by the government today.
The government announced it would be removing the Chinese phone-maker Huawei from 5G mobile networks back in July – saying it would block UK mobile providers from purchasing new Huawei 5G equipment after the end of 2020 and get rid of all 5G kit by the end of 2027.
The move followed US sanctions and mounting security concerns within the UK government about China.
Operators must stop installing any Huawei equipment in 5G networks from the end of September 2021, Oliver Dowden, digital secretary, will announce as the Telecommunications (Security) Bill gets its second reading in parliament.
“Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high-risk vendors from our 5G networks,” Mr Dowden said.
“This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security.
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“We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks. Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks.”
The announcement Huawei would be blocked from the 5G network constituted a major U-turn half a year after the government gave Huawei the green light to be involved.
Huawei – which is the second-largest smartphone supplier in the world – was set up by an ex-army officer in 1987 in Shenzhen in southern China.
Mr Dowden will also release a new 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy today which seeks to make connections faster – with £250 million being poured into the plans.
Lord Livingston, chair of the diversification taskforce, said: “Diversification of the UK telecoms supply chain is very important to ensure that our future networks are secure and resilient and that we can maximise the economic and social potential that 5G brings.
“In order to position ourselves at the forefront of the next generation of technology, it is vital that we invest in research & development, help shape global standards and work closely with our international partners. I welcome the government’s recent announcement committing investment to ensure that we can have the capability to help deliver this strategy.
“The diversification strategy sets out what we need to do. The panel of experts in the diversification taskforce are working on how we deliver it. The whole telecoms industry together with government and our international partners must work together quickly if we wish to realise the potential benefits of 5G.”
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