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Government consults on legal moves to restrict Huawei role in UK telecoms

21/02/22
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Image source: istock.com/Linda Steward

The UK Government has begun a consultation on its proposed legal instruments to mandate the removal of all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has begun the process – which is open only to public telecoms providers – as the next step in controlling the use of the Chinese company in UK networks.

This derives from fears over the security implications of the role of ‘high risk’ suppliers and reflects an element of the diversification strategy for the country’s supply chain.

In November of the last the Telecommunications (Security) Act become law, giving the Government legal mechanism to restrict the use to restrict the use of high risk vendor equipment where necessary but also requiring it to consult with the industry.

The legal instruments are known as ‘designated vendor direction’, which contains requirements that public telecoms providers would need to follow regarding the use of Huawei equipment and services, and a ‘designation notice’ which categorises the company as a high risk vendor.

The consultation will last for four weeks.

Removing installations

Among the terms of the designated vendor direction is a legal requirement on network operators not to install Huawei equipment in 5G networks, to remove the relevant existing equipment by the end of 2027, not install the firm’s equipment affected by sanctions in full fibre networks, and to reduce its equipment share to 35% for full fibre and 5G access (ie non-core) networks by 31 July 2023.

They will also have to remove Huawei high data rate intra-core and inter-operator transmission equipment by 31 December 2025.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The Government is committed to ensuring the security and resilience of our phone and internet networks.

“Last year we brought in new laws to protect UK infrastructure from high risk vendors and issue tough sanctions on providers which fall short of our high security standards. This consultation marks the next step in removing the risks posed by Huawei.”

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