UK bans installation of Huawei 5G equipment starting September 2021

UK telecoms will rely on equipment from Nokia and Ericsson, instead.

UK cellular operators will be banned from installing Huawei 5G equipment after September 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced. The government also released a roadmap to eliminating Huawei-built telecom gear by 2027.

"Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks," said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden in a statement. "This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security."

The UK has reversed tack on its Huawei strategy, having said earlier this year that it wouldn’t yield to US pressure to block Huawei tech from its 5G networks. In July 2020, the government revealed that it was working on proposals to ban the use of new Huawei 5G gear and accelerate the removal of equipment already in place. That decision followed the introduction of US sanctions in May that banned American technology from Huawei products.

Earlier this month, Huawei asked the UK to backtrack on that decision, with VP Victor Zhang saying the decision was “motivated by US perceptions of Huawei and not those of the UK.” The company added that the restrictions will negatively affect Britain by increasing costs and “deepen[ing] the digital divide.”

The UK government also unveiled a new “5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy” designed to bring new vendors into the 5G telecom market. That includes the establishment of a £250 million ($332 million) National Telecoms Lab among other measures. “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,” Dowden said.