UK telco review could be published without Huawei decision

Huawei UK
(Image credit: Future)

The government could publish its long-awaited review of the UK communications market without deciding whether or not Huawei will be able to supply operators with 5G networking equipment.

The report was expected to arrive in the Spring but has not yet materialised. 

Leaks suggested that operators will not be banned from using Huawei kit in the radio layer of their networks, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Huawei UK 5G

The issue is as much about politics as it is about technology and has been complicated by the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party leadership election.

Reuters says the decision about Huawei is set to be reserved for the future Prime Minister – either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt.

Huawei has long been effectively been frozen out of the US telecoms market due to fears that its equipment is a national security risk, allegations that it has continually denied.

Last month, US firms were ordered to stop doing business with the company, a decision which means future handsets may no longer receive updates for Google's Android operating system or access its popular applications. The US government’s actions also make it significantly harder for Huawei to source components for its devices.

Although Washington is relaxing restrictions, it is urging allies – including the UK – to follow its lead. This is despite the fact that Huawei is a key supplier of radio equipment to all four major UK operators and that the US has yet to provide any evidence to support its allegations.

Last week, the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee said operators did not believe that Huawei’s kit was any less secure and that any ban would give networks less leverage to demand higher security standards from other vendors.

However the Committee did suggest a ban might be in the UK’s best interest given the deteriorating relationship between London and Washington. The US has previously suggested that it might limit intelligence sharing should Huawei play a role in the UK’s rollout of 5G.

via Reuters

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.