Huawei 5G ban brought forward

30 November 2020

Telecoms operators must stop installing any Huawei equipment in 5G networks from the end of September 2021, the UK government has said.

The new deadline forms part of the Telecoms (Security) Bill, which is currently in its second reading in Parliament. The bill aims to tackle overreliance on high-risk vendors.

Previously, operators were able to install Huawei equipment up until 2027, when it must be removed from networks, with a deadline to stop procuring new Huawei equipment by the end of 2020.

The bill would also see telecoms firms handed fines of up to £100,000 a day for failing to strengthen the security of their entire UK networks. 

The government also shared its 5G supply chain diversification strategy to help to mitigate the resilience risks to 5G networks ahead of the 2027 deadline.

The strategy revolves around three key pillars: supporting incumbent suppliers, attracting new suppliers into the UK market, and accelerating open-interface and interoperable technologies.

Suppliers would be encouraged to “distribute their operational capabilities across the global supply chain, ensuring that they have the flexibility to meet growing demand” and identify opportunities to diversify component supply chains in order to establish greater resilience against shocks and disruptions,” it said. 

The government added it would spend an initial £250m to “create a more diverse, competitive, and innovative supply market for telecoms”.

Oliver Dowden, digital secretary, said: “Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks. This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security.

“We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks. Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks.”

Previously the technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre said the telecoms market was “broken” and needed to be diversified.

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