Boris Johnson will give Huawei access to UK 5G

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ready to allow the UK's mobile operators to use Huawei’s radio equipment in their 5G networks because of a lack of technical alternatives, according to reports.

Huawei is a key supplier for all four major UK operators but its future role had been uncertain due to fears the use of its kit constituted a national security risk – allegations the company has persistently denied.

A decision had been expected in the Spring and leaks suggested that former Prime Minister Theresa May was prepared to maintain the status quo. However the change in leadership has added further delays, with her successor Boris Johnson eager not to upset US President Donald Trump.

UK Huawei 5G

Washington has banned US companies from doing business with Huawei and is pressuring allies to follow its lead, despite the absence of any evidence to suggest any wrongdoing from Huawei. Meanwhile, US intelligence chiefs have also issued warnings.

Earlier this year, MPs have concluded there is no technical reason why Huawei should be excluded from the UK’s telecoms infrastructure but have suggested there are ethical and political reasons for a ban. And now it appears as though Johnson has come to the same view following further talks between the government and Huawei.

The Times says Huawei would continue to be allowed to provide kit for the “non-contentious” parts of 5G infrastructure. This would mean it would be able to provide radio kit, but not equipment for the core layer of the network, where data processing takes place. Given no UK operator plans to use Huawei in their 5G core, such a ruling would effectively preserve the status quo.

The belief in Whitehall is that other vendors can not offer alternatives to some of Huawei’s technology, meaning the UK could be left behind if the company was banned. Government officials also share the view that the UK has the technological expertise to protect against any threats and that the decision is a political matter.

A formal decision is expected “before Christmas” and will be carefully managed so as to minimise the fallout with Trump and US intelligence agencies.

Via The Times

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.