UK could introduce limits on Huawei kit rather than ban

(Image credit: Huawei)

The UK government could impose restrictions on the use of Huawei’s telecommunications equipment by mobile operators rather than ban the company’s kit outright.

Huawei’s equipment is already subject to monitoring by a dedicated GCHQ unit, but there had been speculation that The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) could go one step further when it publishes a review of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure later this Spring,

All four major mobile operators are Huawei customers, while the company itself is a major investor in the UK. However, many countries, most notably the US, have expressed security concerns about the use of Huawei equipment in mobile networks as the industry moves to the 5G era.

Huawei UK ban

However, according to The Telegraph, officials will not issue an outright ban but will instead limit operators to using Huawei across half of its network. The suggestion is that such a compromise would allow officials to manage any perceived risk while ensuring “diversity of supply.”

Any move to exclude Huawei from the UK market would be met with resistance from operators who fear costs would rise and innovation would decrease. At Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week, leading industry figures suggested Huawei’s exclusion would significantly delay the rollout of 5G in the UK.

A 50 per cent limit would ease these concerns as operators will use a mixture of kit from Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson and others in their infrastructure. So far Huawei claims to have shipped more than 47,000 5G base stations and to have won more than 30 commercial contracts worldwide.

Huawei has largely been excluded from the US’s telecoms infrastructure on national security fears, while other nations have also expressed concern in recent months. It has also been reported that the US has been urging allies to follow its lead.

The fears are largely founded on Huawei’s perceived links to the Chinese government and a belief that legislation requires firms in China to assist in state surveillance.

Huawei has repeatedly denied such allegations and has embarked on a widespread publicity blitz in recent weeks. It’s reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei has given interviews to western media outlets, it has taken out full page adverts in US newspapers, and Rotating Chairman Guo Ping told MWC that the US had “no evidence” for its claims.

Via: The Telegraph

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.