Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, boards an ambulance to talk with a paramedic during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust on July 13, 2020 in London.
(Ben Stansall/PA Photo/Abaca Press/TNS)
Huawei Technologies Co. will be banned from providing equipment for the U.K.’s next generation mobile networks from the end of this year, in a sweeping crackdown on the Chinese company that risks escalating tensions between London and Beijing.
Under the blueprint agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, operators will not be able to add any new Huawei components to their 5G networks after Dec. 31. All equipment made by the Shenzhen-based company that has already been installed will need to be removed from 5G infrastructure by 2027, the government said, confirming reports by Bloomberg News on Monday.
Johnson, his senior ministers and top security chiefs signed off on the plan at a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday before Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden set out the details in a statement to Parliament.
“There is of course no such thing as a perfectly secure network,” Dowden told the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The decision to strip out Huawei’s kit from British networks represents a major reversal by Johnson, and threatens to fuel a growing row between the U.K. and China at a highly sensitive time. China has warned Johnson will face “consequences” if the U.K. treats it as a “hostile partner.”
In May the U.S. banned Huawei from sourcing microchips which use American technology, a move that forced British officials to reassess their view of the security and sustainability of using the company’s equipment in 5G networks. “This was a significant and material change,” Dowden said. These sanctions have “potentially severe impacts” on Huawei’s ability to supply equipment to the U.K, he said.
British phone companies now face a complex and expensive task to remove Huawei gear from their networks over the next seven years. Dowden warned the decision will also delay the roll out of 5G networks in the U.K.
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