Ministers seek to understand current use of vendor’s kit
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The government is approaching the end of a consultation process through which it seeks to understand the prevalence of Huawei kit in the UK’s fibre broadband networks – and what alternative options are available.
The government ruled last year that, in reversal of an earlier decision, the Chinese firm’s kit would not ultimately be allowed to form part of the UK’s 5G infrastructure. Beginning this month, mobile network operators are no longer permitted to invest in any further Huawei kit. The vendor’s technology must be removed from 5G networks entirely by 2027 – with mobile firms that contravene these rules potentially facing fines of £100,000 for each day they are in breach.
Alongside these restrictions, government has also appointed a taskforce to oversee the development and delivery of a “diversification strategy” aimed at broadening a supplier landscape dominated by three players: Ericsson; Huawei; and Nokia.
Minister for digital infrastructure Matt Warman said that the government also wishes to understand the role Huawei technology currently plays in the rollout of the UK’s fixed fibre broadband network – and what alternatives might be available. Although he added that the ongoing consultation with network operators is not focused on the process by which Huawei might also be stripped out of broadband infrastructure.
“The government is reaching the end of a technical consultation with operators to understand their supply chain alternatives to Huawei in full-fibre networks,” Warman said. “The consultation is not considering the removal and replacement of Huawei in full-fibre networks. Information gathered as part of the consultation is commercially sensitive. The secretary of state [for digital Oliver Dowden] will announce the outcome in due course.”
Warman was answering written parliamentary questions from shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah.