In January, the UK announced that they would allow Huawei to build out parts of their 5G network.
Before this announcement was made, the USA had warned that UK adopting Huawei’s technology as part of their roll-out would compromise the US-UK relationship since the US regards Huawei as a security threat.
At the time it seemed the UK was not overly concerned with these threats as they announced that Huawei would be part of the UK’s non-core 5G network. The UK defended their decision by saying Huawei’s limited role would ensure that the country remains secure.
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The following limitations were placed on Huawei in the 5G network rollout at the time:
- Excluded from all safety-related and safety-critical networks in Critical National Infrastructure
- Excluded from security-critical ‘core’ functions, the sensitive part of the network
- Excluded from sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases
- Limited to a minority presence of no more than 35 per cent in the periphery of the network, known as the access network, which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.
It seems UK has now backed down due to pressure from MPs within his government and has subsequently “drawn up plans to reduce the involvement of Chinese technology company Huawei in the UK 5G network to zero by 2023.”
50 Members of Parliament are said to have been prepared to vote against government’s move to have Huawei involved in 35% of the network roll-out.
Huawei will obviously be disappointed by this turn of events. When the UK initially announced that Huawei would be part of their 5G roll-out, Huawei’s VP said the country’s decision would “ensure a competitive market”.
The tensions between USA and China are not subsiding and by having Huawei as part of their network roll-out the UK risked isolating a trade partner at a time when they are short for those since they left the EU at the beginning of the year.
COVID-19 has also contributed to an increase in tensions between China and western nations and its speculated that this also played a part in the UKs decision to renege on their initial position.