The UK government has cut the schedule for domestic telecommunications companies to stop installing 5G kits from Chinese suppliers, according to the BBC. The BBC reports that the deadline for installing kits from so-called high risk vendors is now September.
By the end of this year, the company already had a ban on purchasing telecommunications kits from Huawei et al. Announced. They were national security concerns from companies that are under the jurisdiction of China's state surveillance laws. However, ministers fear that transport companies may stockpile kits for short-term installation to create an optional buffer for themselves, given the option to remove such kits from existing 5G networks by 2027, according to the BBC. Maintenance of devices that have already been installed is also permitted until then.
A telecommunications security bill that will allow the government to identify the kit as a national security risk and prohibit its use on domestic networks is due to be presented to parliament tomorrow.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC he was pushing for the "complete removal of high-risk providers".
In July, the government announced that changes to the US sanctions regime meant that the security risk associated with Chinese kit manufacturers could no longer be managed.
The move represented a major U-turn from the political stance announced in January – when the UK said it would allow Chinese operators to play a limited role in serving domestic networks. However, the plan met with vocal opposition from the government and high pressure from the US – which has pushed the allies to completely exclude Huawei.
In addition to guidelines restricting the use of high-risk 5G providers, the UK has announced that it is taking steps to encourage newcomers to enter the market to address concerns that the resulting lack of suppliers poses another security risk.
Dowden today released a strategy to diversify the supply chain for 5G, warning that the country is “too dependent on too few suppliers” if there are no high risk providers.
"This 5G diversification strategy is a clear and ambitious plan to expand our telecommunications supply chain while ensuring that it is resilient to future trends and threats," he writes. “It has three core areas: supporting established suppliers; Attracting new suppliers to the UK market; and accelerate the development and delivery of open interface solutions. "
The government is initially investing £ 250 million in the 5G diversification plan to stimulate greater competition and interoperability.
"To achieve this long-term vision, we need to remove the barriers preventing new entrants from joining the supply chain, invest in research and development to support the accelerated development and deployment of interoperable delivery models, and international collaboration and policy coordination between national governments and industry. " it writes.
In the short to medium term, the government says it will prioritize support for existing suppliers. The likely short-term beneficiary of the strategy is Finnish Nokia.
However, the government also says it will "try to attract new suppliers to the UK market in order to start the diversification process as soon as possible".
“As part of our approach, we will be prioritizing UK capacity building opportunities in key areas of the supply chain,” he writes, adding, “As we advance these activities, we look forward to working with carriers in the UK, telecom providers and international governments to to achieve our common goals of a more competitive and dynamic telecommunications utility market. "
We asked Huawei to comment on the new deadline within which UK carriers can stop installing their 5G kit.
The company has continued to deny security concerns related to its business.