Following the UK government’s decision back in June 2020 to remove all Huawei Equipment From 5G Network Cores, the deadline has now been pushed back to December 2023. 

Why Remove Huawei Equipment? 

The decision to remove the equipment in the UK dates back to the Trump era in the US, however worries about national security due to Huawei’s possible links to the Chinese state date back much further. For example: 

2001 – Allegations from India’s intelligence agencies that Huawei was helping the Taliban. 

2003 – A Cisco lawsuit against Huawei in 2003 over the alleged copying of intellectual property (copying of software and violation of patents). 

2007 – Concerns over whether a venture between Cisco rival 3Com and Huawei should be permitted due to a perceived lack of transparency in Huawei. 

2010 – Concerns after Huawei products and equipment were tested for security holes at a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) in Banbury. The factory-style centre was set up as a partnership between Huawei and the UK authorities to make sure that the UK’s telecoms infrastructure is not compromised by the involvement of Huawei. 

2012 – A US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report flagged-up the potential for Chinese state influence from both Huawei and ZTE.  

2018 – The ‘Five-Eyes’ espionage chiefs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. agreed at a meeting to contain the global growth of Chinese telecoms company Huawei (the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment) because of the threat that it could be using its phone network equipment to spy for China. From here, bans on Huawei Technologies Ltd as a supplier for fifth-generation networks equipment followed in the US, Australia and New Zealand, plus Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, was detained in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities, for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.  

2019 – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Huawei with bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. Also, in the US in 2019, Huawei was put on an export blacklist in 2019 (the entity list), banning the telecom giant from buying components and technology from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval. 

2020 – January, in the UK, the government at first said that it would allow Huawei equipment to be used in the country’s 5G network, but not in core network functions or critical national infrastructure and not in nuclear and military sites. Then, following White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney visiting the UK to help dissuade the UK from using Huawei’s products in phone networks. Furthermore, after warnings by Robert Strayer (the US deputy assistant secretary for cyber and communications) that allowing Huawei to provide key aspects of the 5G network infrastructure could allow China to undermine it and to have access to “sensitive data”, GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) produced a new report about Huawei’s products and security.    

2020 – In July, the UK government went back on its original decision to use some Huawei equipment in non-core parts of the UK’s 5G network and has opted to remove all Huawei kit by 2027 

2020 – In the US, the Trump administration issued an executive order banning US companies from doing business with Huawei (due to national security concerns) including supplying equipment for network infrastructure, particularly 5G. The ban was extended in 2021.

March 2021 – In the US, five Chinese companies were put on a “covered list”, identifying them as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law to protect US communications networks. The list included Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp Hikvision and Dahua. 

Deadlines In The UK 

In the UK, the original deadline to remove all Huawei Equipment From 5G Network Cores was set for January of this year. Also, BT and Vodafone have been told to remove Huawei 5G equipment from their core by January 2023 (at the latest).  

It is still the case that under The Telecoms Security Act (passed last year), no new Huawei 5G installations can be added and all Huawei products must be removed from UK networks by the end of the year 2027. 

The new extension, however, now means that: 

  • Telecoms companies in the UK now have until December 2023 to remove Huawei equipment from their 5G mobile connectivity (network cores). 
  • The deadline for companies to cut the amount of Huawei equipment used in their non-core networks to 35 per cent has been extended from July 2023 to Oct 31, 2023. 
  • All 35 telecom network operators in the UK have been informed of the change by legal letter. 

New Ban In the US Last Week 

Last week there was news that the Biden administration has banned any approvals of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies and ZTE. The reason given is that they pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security.

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