Speaking to Telecoms.com, a Huawei spokesperson insisted the initiative is not explicitly hostile to it, rather it’s merely part of the intervention announced by the UK government in July. “We have always argued vendor diversity leads not only to greater network security and resilience, but also fosters competition, innovation and ultimately drives down costs for consumers,” the spokesperson told us. “We welcome competition.”
Technically the purpose of the taskforce is indeed to try to encourage a greater diversity of networking vendor options. Having banned one of the three main vendors, the UK government has created a supplier duopoly for its operators and now wants to be seen to do something about it. But none of this would be necessary if the government wasn’t explicitly anti-Huawei, so any activities made necessary by the decision to ban Huawei must be viewed in that context.
So, while we acknowledge Huawei’s point about the taskforce, the only reason the UK government is suddenly all concerned about vendor diversity is because it’s responsible for the lack of it. Huawei can issue all the generic statements about competition it wants, but they don’t change the fact that the purpose of this taskforce is to replace Huawei with other vendors.
In its haste to repair the damage done to the UK telecoms vendor ecosystem by its decision, the government predictably got together a bunch of big telecoms names to add weight to its claims to be on the case. The list of people involved is genuinely impressive and we’re sure they’ll do their best to help, but it’s not the government’s place to pick private sector winners. It is therefore difficult to have much more hope for this initiative than the countless long-forgotten market interventions that precede it.