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UK Reconsidering Using Huawei 5G Equipment

Despite U.S. urging UK not to use Huawei 5G equipment on allegations that Chinese government will use the telecommunication company to breach the country’s National Security, UK is reported preparing to defy U.S. by allowing Huawei to supply 5G kit.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that allowing Huawei some limited involvement in building the UK’s 5G network would not damage transatlantic security cooperation.

PM, Boris went on to say that UK can have technological progress while preserving national security even though US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo insists they stayed away from the telco’s 5G tech.

In his interview with BBC earlier this month, Johnson said, the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology.

“We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. Now if people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what’s the alternative,”

The alternatives to Huawei’s 5G are; Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland, who are deemed to be more expensive by UK officials — comparing to Huawei which is cheaper for them.

UK’s telecoms companies have been using Huawei in its networks for the past 15 years, during which the world’s largest telecom equipment supplier kept a proven clear cyber security track record.

But US under the Trump administration has been trying to convince its allies not to allow the Chinese tech giant to form their 5G networks, claiming it would be a security risk, without providing any evidence.

There is evidence shows excluding Huawei would cost the UK economy £7 billion (approx. UGX33.5 trillion, USD$9 billion) and result in more expensive 5G networks, raising prices for anyone with a mobile device.

British Government has full access to evaluate Huawei product ranges through Cyber Security and Evaluation Centre, opened in the country in 2010. The oversight board of the facility is chaired by the CEO of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre with members from government including Government Communications Headquarters, as well as the UK telecommunications sector.

UK security agencies believe they have managed security concerns around the Chinese supplier so far and will be able to do so with the 5G network.

PM, Boris told BBC, “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the UK, allow consumers, businesses in the UK to have access to fantastic technology, fantastic communications, but also protect our security interests and protect our key partnerships with other security powers around the world.”

British prime minister Boris Johnson (L) with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
British prime minister Boris Johnson (L) with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The director-general of MI5, Andrew Parker, earlier this month said, that he had “no reason to think” that using Huawei technology should threaten intelligence sharing with the US.

The British government has reiterated that the “sustainable diversity in the 5G supplier market” is the centerpiece of resilience of telecom networks, not just a question of in or out.

Many believe that cutting competition by a reduction to just two vendor choices (Ericsson and Nokia), can’t be good for the market and consumers — neither helpful to strengthening resilience of telecoms networks that UK government describes as of paramount importance.

Dexter Thillien, a senior TMT analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC that “Three is better than two,” he said, “If you ban Huawei, you have a choice between Ericsson and Nokia. You lack competition.”

Despite the US’ restrictions and a prolonged campaign against its business, Huawei remains leader in 5G competitive landscape. According to IPlytics GmbH, Huawei is the No.1 in terms of the number of 5G Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and the number of 5G standards contributions.

A woman looks at her phone as she walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing. Courtesy Photo/Reuters
A woman looks at her phone as she walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing. Courtesy Photo/Reuters

Huawei has played an important part in helping its UK carrier partners to develop and roll out both fixed and mobile networks throughout the UK.

According to a research by Oxford Economics, Huawei stimulated a £1.7 billion (approx. UGX8.127 trillion, USD$2.2 billion) contribution to UK GDP in 2018 alone.

Across the EU, no government has yet imposed an outright ban on Huawei. Operators warn that banning Huawei may add years of delays and billions in costs to European countries’ 5G network launch.

On May 16th, 2019, Pres. Trump issued a directive that saw Huawei added on U.S. Department of Commerce entity list which restricts them from doing any business with U.S. companies minus the White House approval.

Huawei Founder, Ren Zhengfei would later admit that the ban would cost the Chinese tech firm — at least USD$30 billion (approx. UGX110.5 trillion) in lost revenue of the next two years.

Ren Zhengfei, Founder of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd | Photo Courtesy : Pauta.cl
Ren Zhengfei, Founder of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd | Photo Courtesy : Pauta.cl

After meeting with the Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Trump said, US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei where there’s no great national security problem.

However, with the permission, Huawei still remains on the entity list of companies that the U.S. Department of Commerce bars from dealing with American entities.

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