The UK’s decision to allow Huawei gear in its 5G networks may be short-lived. Officials talking to the Financial Times say the UK government is planning to gradually phase out use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks, eliminating it entirely in 2023.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson always had “serious concerns” about allowing Huawei’s involvement, and they’ve been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Huawei’s Victor Zhang told the FT that the reports “simply don’t make sense” and argued that the UK chose to allow Huawei because it needed the “best possible technologies, more choice, innovation and more suppliers.”
The Trump administration has banned government use of Huawei’s technology, and the president signed an executive order last May blocking US companies from buying foreign-made telecommunications equipment that may pose national security risks. The order doesn’t single out any one company, but is viewed as a way to exclude Chinese firms like ZTE and Huawei from doing business in the US. Last week, Trump extended the ban through May 2021.
The US has argued that Huawei could build backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid spying efforts by the Chinese government, a charge Huawei has repeatedly denied.
Boris Johnson had limited how much Huawei equipment could be used for 5G networks in the UK, banning the use of the company’s technology in the most sensitive parts of the network. He said in January that there were not a lot of other options available for the UK’s 5G infrastructure, and telecom Vodafone said removing Huawei equipment from its networks would be extremely costly.