UK to make Huawei 5G decision by Autumn

(Image credit: Future)

The UK is finally nearing a decision as to whether Huawei can help build its 5G network.

In what has become a bellwether for Huawei's global 5G prospects, the Chinese giant has been waiting to hear if it will be able to play a role in helping build superfast next-generation networks in the UK.

Today, UK Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has suggested the government will decide whether Huawei will be able to participate in the rollout of 5G in the UK before the end of the year.

Huawei UK 5G

A decision had been expected earlier this year with the publication of the Telecoms Supply Chain Review. That document was finally made available in July, but it omitted a final ruling on the matter.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Morgan said a decision could be made within the next few months.

"I would hope that we could do something by the autumn, but we want to make the right decision and we've got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure we keep all our networks secure," she said.

“Huawei are not involved in the provision of government networks at the moment and that's absolutely going to stay the same way, but we will look at all circumstances.”

Huawei has long been excluded from US mobile and broadband networks on national security grounds and Washington is urging its allies to follow suit.

The Chinese vendor has denied all allegations of wrongdoing and the US has provided no evidence to support its claims. Nonetheless, the US has persisted with its calls for Huawei to banned in the other nations.

The UK has been conducting its own review of Huawei and a conclusion had been expected earlier this year. Leaks suggested Huawei would be banned from core network infrastructure but not the radio element of 5G networks – effectively maintaining the status quo.

Impact on market

All four major UK networks are Huawei customers and there is no desire for any ban as they believe such action would reduce innovation and increase prices.

However when a wider review of the UK telecom sector’s supply chain was finally published last month, a final decision was omitted.

Since then, Boris Johnson has replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister and is understood to be more favourable to many of US President Donald Trump’s views and policies.

The role of Huawei in the UK could impact trade discussions between the US and UK after Brexit and also intelligence sharing. A number of US officials have said that the latter could be limited if Huawei equipment was continued to be used in the UK.

It has been reported that Johnson and Trump have discussed the issue at the G7 Summit in France this past week.

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.