BT, the UK’s largest fixed-line operator, has brought in a new supplier to help reduce its reliance on Chinese company Huawei and speed up a nationwide fibre-optic system, Bloomberg reported. Openreach, BT’s infrastructure arm, has signed a long-term contract with the US company to become a strategic partner with Huawei and Nokia finland.
Joining a U.S. component manufacturer would help the operator limit the use of Chinese-made technology in fiber-optic networks to comply with national security regulations. Financial terms were not disclosed by both parties.
In January, the UK will cap the amount of data it can transfer through Huawei’s all-optical and 5G devices at 35 per cent, giving networks three years to comply. The move dealt a blow to China, but did not meet the u.S. general ban.
Huawei accounts for 44% of the UK’s all-optical market, according to government figures. BT said the overhaul of the system to comply could cost 500 million pounds ($611 million), but this was mainly an adjustment to the wireless tower.
“This helps Openreach to implement their plans while still complying with these requirements.” Jay Wilson, Adtran’s chief revenue officer, said in an interview. He added that the contract could account for a tenth of its peak sales.
The Huntsville, Alabama-based company also serves some of BT’s small start-up rivals, large U.S. operators such as AT?amp;T, and European peers such as Deutsche Telekom.
A week ago, BT accelerated its fibre-optic plan, promising to connect 20m homes by the mid-20s, if conditions allowed. It also cancelled its dividend to help deliver on that commitment.
Bloomberg first reported openreach’s search for new suppliers in November. Peter Bell, the company’s network technology director, said in a statement that the deal with Adtran would help the UK “bounce back from the new coronavirus pandemic” by providing better broadband networks. The UK has lagged behind its European neighbours in building glass-based fibre-optic connections and relies instead on lower-bandwidth copper transmissions.