5G industry news

Huawei to be removed from UK 5G networks by 2027

  • 5 minute read
  • Published by Lucy Woods on 14 Jul 2020
  • Last modified 14 Jul 2020
HUAWEI will be completely removed from the UK’s 5G networks by the end of 2027, the government has announced, following new advice produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the impact of US sanctions against the telecommunications vendor.

Ahead of this there will be a total ban on the purchase of any new 5G kit after 31 December 2020.

The decision was taken today in a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the Prime Minister, in response to new US sanctions. These were imposed on Huawei in May, after the UK’s initial decision on high risk vendors, and are the first of their kind removing the firm’s access to products which have been built based on US semiconductor technology.

Technical experts at the NCSC reviewed the consequences of the sanctions and concluded the company will need to do a major reconfiguration of its supply chain as it will no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies and there are no alternatives which we have sufficient confidence in. They found the new restrictions make it impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future.

As a result, ministers today agreed that UK operators should stop the purchase of Huawei equipment affected by the sanctions. There will be a ban on the purchase of new Huawei kit for 5G from next year and it will be completely removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027.

The decision takes into account our specific national circumstances and how the risks from these sanctions are manifested in the UK.

The existing restrictions on Huawei in sensitive and critical parts of the network remain in place.

The US action also affects Huawei products used in the UK’s full fibre broadband networks. However, the UK has managed Huawei’s presence in the UK’s fixed access networks since 2005 and we also need to avoid a situation where broadband operators are reliant on a single supplier for their equipment. As a result, following security advice from our world leading experts, we are advising full fibre operators to transition away from purchasing new Huawei equipment. A technical consultation will determine the transition timetable, but we expect this period to last no longer than two years.

This approach strikes the right balance by recognising full fibre’s established presence and supporting the connections that the public relies on, while fully addressing the security concerns of our world leading experts.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

"5G will be transformative for our country, but only if we have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure it is built upon. Following US sanctions against Huawei and updated technical advice from our cyber experts, the government has decided it is necessary to ban Huawei from our 5G networks. No new kit is to be added from January 2021, and UK 5G networks will be Huawei free by the end of 2027. This decisive move provides the industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to get on with delivering 5G across the UK. By the time of the next election we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks. The government will now seek to legislate at the earliest opportunity with a new Telecoms Security Bill to put in place the powers necessary to implement this tough new telecoms security framework."

It will give the government the national security powers to impose these new controls on high risk vendors and create extensive security duties on network operators to drive up standards.

FURTHER BACKGROUND

Protecting the UK’s telecoms sector has always been the government’s top priority and last July, through the Telecoms Security Review, it announced one of the toughest regimes in the world for telecoms security. It will require all operators to raise security standards, to combat the range of threats, whether from cyber criminals or state sponsored attacks.

In January, as it concluded The Review, the government concluded ‘high risk’ vendors should be excluded from the core and most sensitive parts of the UK’s 5G network, restricted to up to a 35 per cent market share in the access network, which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts, by 2023, with the decisions kept under review. Our word-leading cyber security experts were satisfied that with our approach and tough regulatory regime, any risk can be safely managed, but were also clear that further sanctions could require them to change that assessment.

The policy in relation to high risk vendors has not been designed around one company, one country or one threat. It is intended to be an enduring and flexible policy that will enable us to manage the risks to the network both now and in the future.

Notes to editors
DCMS press office can be contacted on 020 7211 2210.

Read Oliver Dowden’s Statement to the House of Commons
Updated NCSC guidance

Today the NCSC has published updated guidance in relation to Huawei.

It has also published a number of other documents:

A summary of the NCSC’s analysis of the May 2020 US sanction of Huawei; A blog: ‘A different future for telecoms in the UK’; An explainer: Why has the NCSC’s advice on the use of Huawei technology changed?; An explainer: What is 5G, and how will it affect you?

Telecoms Supply Chain Review

Further information on the government’s January decision which concluded the Telecoms Supply Chain Review is available here. The review was a comprehensive, evidence-based review, designed to ensure the security and resilience of the UK’s networks.

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