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Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has told the House of Commons that all UK mobile providers will be banned from purchasing new Huawei 5G equipment, starting from the 31st December this year.
"This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run," he said.
This decision closely follows those bans put in place by Washington, stating that Huawei poses a national security threat and could share important information with the Chinese government. Huawei has denied all allegations.
Huawei said the decision was "bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone”.
When will Huawei be completely gone from the UK?
In a sense, Huawei will never be completely removed from the UK as the company can still sell its mobile phones to consumers. However, Huawei’s 5G kit will be completely removed from mobile networks by 2027.
We could see this happen much sooner as mobile providers are banned from buying new Huawei 5G equipment by the end of this year. Therefore, most networks will likely begin removing Huawei’s equipment and replacing it as soon as possible.
The security concerns only surround new 5G kit from Huawei, meaning that it’s unlikely that 2G, 3G and 4G equipment supplied by Huawei will be removed.
Despite this, Huawei’s masts will need to be removed which means networks will likely switch to a different vendor, even for 2G, 3G and 4G services.
How will this impact the UK’s 5G rollout?
Huawei claims that the UK’s decision will "move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide."
The decision will certainly push the UK’s 5G rollout back. The main reason why is that at the start of this year, it was decided that Huawei could play a role in the UK’s 5G rollout, albeit limited. This means that major network providers were acting under the impression that they could use some of Huawei’s equipment. This kit will now need to be removed and replaced with alternatives.
This decision is rather costly too, with the final cost of the moves mounting up to £2bn, according to Mr Dowden.
He also claims that the total delay to the UK 5G rollout would be "two to three years".
This will put the UK behind other countries that are already making significant progress with the new super-fast network.
The positive is now that a decision has been made, the UK can start moving confidently towards a mass 5G rollout, despite the delay.
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