Technology

Huawei: UK to make 5G decision 'by the autumn'

A man walking past a Huawei 5G sign Image copyright VCG / Getty Images

The UK will decide whether Huawei should be excluded from the rollout of its 5G mobile networks by the end of the year, a cabinet minister has said.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC she hoped the government "could do something by the autumn".

She stressed that the UK needed to make the "right decision" to help keep its networks secure.

In June, China warned the UK that excluding Huawei from its 5G network "sends a very bad signal".

"I would hope that we could do something by the autumn, but we want to make the right decision and we've got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure we keep all our networks secure," Ms Morgan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Huawei are not involved in the provision of government networks at the moment and that's absolutely going to stay the same way, but we will look at all circumstances."

Huawei told the the BBC that it welcomed Ms Morgan's "commitment" to "world-class digital infrastructure".

"Over the last 18 years, we have helped build the UK's broadband, 3G and 4G networks and, as independent analysts agree, Huawei can help British operators develop 5G networks that are more secure, more affordable and completed more quickly - helping to keep bills down for consumers and connect rural areas," a spokesman said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump discussed 5G and Huawei at a meeting during the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.

US ban

The US banned companies from selling components and technology to Huawei and 68 related companies on 15 May, citing national security concerns.

It later issued a temporary licence that enabled some companies to continue supporting existing Huawei networks and devices.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Huawei cut more than 600 jobs at its US research unit after it was placed on the trade blacklist

The US has also put pressure on its allies to exclude the Chinese firm's technology from being used in 5G networks, claiming that it posed a risk to national security - something that Huawei has denied.

In April, former Prime Minister Theresa May and the National Security Council were reported to have decided to give the go-ahead to Huawei to provide antennas and other 5G equipment so long as it was kept out of the most sensitive parts of the system known as the core.

This was expected to be confirmed within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)'s delayed Telecoms Supply Chain Review.

But the report was published shortly before Boris Johnson took charge without the matter being settled.

Former culture secretary Jeremy Wright said at the time that the implication of the recent US ban on its companies dealing with Huawei was not clear.

Until it was, he said the government would be "wrong" to make a decision.

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