US makes 'final push' in UK 5G Huawei ban bid

(Image credit: Future)

The US government is reportedly set to make one last attempt to influence the UK’s decision on whether Huawei can play a role in the rollout of 5G.

According to Reuters, US Secretary of Sate Mike Pompeo is expected to hold talks with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Washington later this week, reiterating America’s belief that the vendor is a threat to national security.

Pompeo could also reiterate that intelligence sharing could be affected if Huawei equipment is used in the UK. Both countries, along with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, are part of the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance.

Huawei UK

Huawei denies any allegations of wrongdoing and the US has never produced any evidence to support its claims. Nonetheless, Washington has exerted considerable pressure on its allies to follow its lead and ban the use of Huawei equipment in telecoms infrastructure.

The company is a key supplier for all four major UK operators and there are concerns that a ban would increase prices and reduce innovation. Meanwhile, MPs and intelligence chiefs have suggested there is no technical reason to exclude Huawei from 5G and that the decision is a political one. There is also a belief that a ban would impact the government’s more ambitious connectivity targets.

A decision was expected last  Spring, with leaks suggestion that former Prime Minister Theresa May would continue to allow Huawei 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.

However a change in Prime Minister and last month’s General Election have delayed the process. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson is eager not to upset US President Donald Trump, but reports suggested that after month’s of deliberation, Johnson has come to the same conclusion as May.

A final decision could be made before the end of the month.

“The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance,” a government spokesperson is quoted as saying. “The government continues to consider its position on high-risk vendors and a decision will be made in due course.”

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.