Chinese company Huawei has certainly had its fair share of troubles over the last year or so. Due to allegations over the company’s purported ties with the Chinese government, the U.S. government’s now-infamous ban was also recently extended—and it now looks like the UK government could be following suit. According to Bloomberg, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will phase out the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks around the country, with the plan possibly starting in 2020.
This latest move would be a U-turn of sorts by the UK government, after Huawei was approved for 5G networking plans in the UK earlier this year. However, the current government have apparently changed their mind now, although the original plan stated that Huawei’s networking technology would not be used for any “sensitive” parts of the network.
Instead, certain conditions meant that only 35 percent of the UK’s networks would use Huawei 5G tech, with politicians in the UK calling for diversity in the country’s 5G suppliers. As such, any potential risk that could be associated with Huawei would have to be handled.
So, why the change in mind?
According to The Telegraph, the British government will phase out Huawei equipment from their 5G infrastructure; any technology already installed will be removed, and future installations will be cancelled. When the Johnson administration approved Huawei previously, the U.S. government reportedly put pressure on their counterparts in the UK to follow suit with sanctions of their own.
The Prime Minister has also experienced similar pressures from within, with political opponents from the Conservative Party in the UK concerned over supposed national security concerns. While there has yet to be any official statement from the UK government as of yet, Sir Iain Duncan Smith reportedly welcomed the news, calling for the government to reassess the UK’s “dangerous dependency on China”.
Despite that, Huawei has said that the restrictions imposed by the U.S. aren’t about security, but rather as a market-based decision. At the time, Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said that the company was looking for ways to “manage ” the restrictions. Meanwhile, a spokesperson tells Phone Arena that everyone should “focus on facts and not to speculate”, with the company saying that they have been transparent in their dealing with the UK on 5G infrastructure.
It’s important to note that the reported issue pertains to Huawei’s 5G technology, as opposed to the company’s consumer products such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. The UK continues to receive Huawei consumer goods, although their Android-based mobile devices no long have the full support of Google—and Google Mobile Services. As such, the company has continued to build an “ecosystem” of its own, although newly-released smartphones continue to be based on Android.