Chinese telecom giant Huawei will be completely removed from the UK’s 5G network by the end of 2027, the UK government confirmed on Tuesday (14 Jul).

The decision is a reversal of its January announcement that excluded ‘high-risk’ vendors such as Huawei from the core and most sensitive parts of the UK’s 5G network, but allowed it to be involved elsewhere in the UK’s infrastructure.

The latest move follows US sanctions imposed against Huawei in May 2020, that restrict Huawei’s ability to produce products using US technology or software.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Oliver Dowden, the UK’s digital, culture, media and sport secretary, said the January decision on defining and restricting ‘high-risk’ vendors from the UK’s 5G network had been kept under review by the National Cyber Security Centre and the situation had now changed.

He pointed out that while the latest US sanctions are not the first attempt to restrict Huawei’s ability to supply equipment to 5G networks, “they are, however, the first to have potentially severe impacts on Huawei’s ability to supply new equipment in the UK.”

Mr Dowden said the uncertainty the sanctions creates around Huawei’s supply chain means the UK can “no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment affected by the change.”

Therefore, from 31 December 2020 there will be a complete ban on the purchase of any new 5G equipment from Huawei, while the Telecoms Security Bill, to be introduced in Autumn 2020, will set out a timetable to remove all Huawei equipment from the 5G network by the end of 2027.

Mr Dowden acknowledged the latest decisions, on top of the initial restrictions announced in January, would lead to a “cumulative delay to 5G rollout of two to three years and costs of up to £2bn.”