Specifically the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced a consultation on ‘its proposed legal instruments to mandate the removal of all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by end of 2027.’ On one level this just seems to be the legal rubber-stamping of the measures introduced in response to US pressure back in 2020, but there are one or two additional concessions.
‘The consultation includes proposed measures for full fibre broadband operators to stop installing Huawei equipment affected by US sanctions,’ said the DCMS announcement. That means all of it, presumably, so Huawei can no longer flog fibre kit to UK operators. In what appears to be an attempt to sugar the pill, those operators are given a bit more time to ensure Huawei equipment accounts for no more than 35% of their fixed line inventory.
Here are all the proposed legal measures the DCMS will introduce is consulting on:
Remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027.
Not install Huawei equipment in 5G networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the final direction.
Remove all Huawei equipment from the core of telecoms networks by 28 January 2023.
Not install sanctions-affected Huawei equipment in full fibre networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the direction. This includes any equipment for which the supply chain or manufacturing process has been altered due to the impact of US sanctions.
Reduce the share of Huawei equipment to 35 per cent of the full fibre and 5G access (i.e. non-core) networks by 31 July 2023, six months later than previously announced due to the difficulties providers have faced during the pandemic.
Remove Huawei high data rate intra-core and inter-operator transmission equipment – hardware which sends data across a network without processing it – from all networks by 31 December 2025.
“In July 2020 the government announced it would hold a technical consultation with full fibre operators regarding their use of Huawei equipment,” said UK Chief Censor Nadine Dorries. “Following the conclusion of that technical consultation, the government worked with the National Cyber Security Centre to analyse responses.
“As a result, the proposed direction includes a ban on the installation of sanctions-affected equipment in full fibre networks, effective from the issuing of the designated vendor direction for Huawei. The government considers that preventing any future installation of this equipment addresses the national security risk posed by Huawei in full fibre networks, but it will consider views from consultees before reaching a final decision.”
As ever our final, binding decision on the matter is subject to the whims of whoever is ostensibly leading the US. Huawei’s equipment is as risky as the Americans tell us it is and if we disagree then we’ll be punished like the naughty vassals we are. UK operators should be grateful the US is allowing them a bit of Huawei fixed-line kit but, if they’ve been paying attention, they might be tempted to get rid of even that before they’re ordered to.