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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

UK telcos legally obligated to remove Huawei kit

It’s now official. All UK telecom operators will be expected by the government to remove Huawei technology from the country’s 5G network by the end of 2027.

This announcement follows a 2020 directive from the government to ban the purchase of Huawei equipment for use in networks even as telcos in the country protested that it would delay the rollout of 5G technology and increase costs. All 35 telecom network operators have been issued with a legal document known as Designated Vendor Direction which makes the government’s 2020 directive a legal obligation.

On the other hand, Huawei has been issued with a designation notice stating that the company is a high-risk vendor of 5G network equipment and services. Within the document is a set of all reasons why the government thinks Huawei is a threat to national security.

This notice to telecos means that they can’t install new Huawei components in their 5G networks and requires them to remove existing Huawei components from their networks by 2027.

According to the notice, the telecos are also supposed to remove Huawei equipment from their core networks by December 31st, 2023. Additionally, the network operators should ensure that Huawei's presence is limited to less than 35% of the full fiber access network by October 31st, 2023. The deadline had been previously set for January 28 2023 but it was determined that the move would lead to network outages and disruption for customers and hence the extension.

Although this government directive will be a big blow for Huawei, CCS Insight analyst Kester Mann is confident that it will not affect the 5G rollout in the UK in a major way.

"With the long-term deadline to remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by 2027 still in place, today's announcement will probably have only a minimal effect on the overall deployment of 5G networks in the UK," he said.

Commenting on the directive, a spokesman from Huawei said the company was disappointed by the move and believed it was politically motivated.

The country’s communication regulator Ofcom will be in charge of enforcing the government directive and has been given the power to conduct inspections of network operators to ensure they are in compliance. Failure to comply may result in fines of up to 10 percent of a company's turnover or £100,000 per day if it's a continuing contravention.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also reportedly getting ready to issue its own ban on all sales of telecoms kits from Huawei


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