UK Government will give Huawei limited access to its 5G networks

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What you need to know

  • The UK government has made its decision on the use of Huawei hardware in its 5G networks.
  • Huawei will be excluded from the "core" parts of the network.
  • There will be a 35% cap on "high-risk vendor" access to non-core parts.

Reports suggest that the UK government has made its decision regarding the use of Huawei hardware in its 5G networks, excluding it from "core" parts of the networks.

However, Huawei will get limited access to non-core parts, with a 35% cap on "high-risk vendor access". According to Zoe Kleinman:

The BBC notes that it will also be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites. In a statement the firms UK head Victor Zhang said:

"Huawei is reassured by the UK government's confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track..."It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market."

All major UK carriers already use Huawei as part of its 4G networks, however, the rollout of 5G has drawn close attention in part due to security concerns, and calls from President Donald Trump and the US not to allow the Chinese Tech company to build the network. Beijing has also warned of "substantial" repercussions if Huawei is excluded outright from the process, putting the UK government in a fairly sticky situation.

The news will not affect UK carriers that significantly, however, as only Three is reportedly using Huawei in its 5G tech, and in a limited capacity

In a statement in advance of the decision O2, who has chosen Nokia and Ericsson as its hardware supplier said:

O2's position on Huawei kit in our network hasn't changed. Following trials with vendors, including Huawei, last summer we signed a deal with Nokia and Ericsson as our primary RAN partners for our 5G rollout to deliver the cellular equipment, software and services.In London there are currently a very small number of Huawei sites from that trial, which will be replaced with Nokia kit.Following our 5G launch in October, our focus is on enhancing customer experience on the best possible network with assets we have deployed, including trial sites until they are replaced with Nokia or Ericsson kit.

Vodafone UK stated:

"We do not have any Huawei equipment in our core mobile network. This is the intelligent part of the network and we have multiple layers of security and encryption in place between it and the phone masts. We use a mix of Ericsson and Huawei in the supply of passive antennas on our masts. By using the full range of suppliers for this equipment, we can safeguard the delivery of services to all mobile customers."In addition, all of our suppliers are subject to rigorous market-leading benchmarking of their technology and capability. As part of our risk assessment and network resilience planning, we test the performance of all equipment in our network. We also work closely with government and industry partners to assess telecoms sector security and performance, and always comply with the latest regulations."

A Three spokesperson in advance of this ruling said: "We continue to keep in close contact with Government and the NCSC on the issue and will abide by any directions given by them." However, it noted that Nokia is the chosen provider for its core network (the bit Huawei is excluded from). Three also noted that its relationship with Huawei was new, and that it had strict contractual obligations in the RAN agreement which means that Huawei will have to meet standards set by the NCSC.

BBC political corresponsent Laura Kuenssberg commented on the news saying:

Stephen Warwick