The United Kingdom’s government said Tuesday it would bar telecom companies from purchasing new equipment made by Huawei, and gave them until 2027 to remove its technology from their 5G networks.
Under the plan, British phone companies will not be able to add any new Huawei components to their 5G networks by the end of the year. After that, all existing equipment would need to be removed from 5G infrastructure by 2027, a person familiar with the matter told the media.
The move is a victory for the United States, which has been lobbying for a 5G ban among its western allies. Last year, the US added Huawei to its trade blacklist, amid concerns that its 5G equipment enables the Chinese government to spy on other nations. In May, Washington banned American technology for Chinese processor chips.
In January, the UK allowed Huawei to play a limited role in Britain’s 5G networks, denying the US’ efforts to ban the company. Huawei was banned from supplying kit to “sensitive parts” of the network, known as the core.
Last week however, British media reported that prime minister Boris Johnson’s government is drawing up plans to strip Huawei gear from Britain’s 5G networks by the end of the year, following a new report from a branch of British intelligence agency GCHQ that raised new security fears over the tech giant.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Johnson has faced demands from within his own Conservative Party to take a tougher line with Beijing. In March, citing officials, media reported that the government was furious with China’s handling of the virus, and that Beijing faces a “reckoning” once the crisis is over.
Johnson, his senior ministers and top security chiefs are due to be presented with the proposal at a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday. A decision is expected to be announced later in the House of Commons.