The British government has held talks with NEC on providing 5G devices for mobile networks as part of the country’s broader effort to reduce its reliance on Chinese technology, Bloomberg reported. The NEC held talks with the British government last month and Samsung Electronics is also under consideration, Bloomberg quoted sources as saying.
Talks with NEC have focused on bringing the Japanese company’s technology into the UK 5G market, which could start with a pilot project called 5G Create.
The source added that Samsung, which does not currently have 5G infrastructure in the UK, would be invited to talks “soon”.
The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been awarded a grant of 200 million pounds for a 5G pilot project to develop mobile infrastructure.
As the UK pushes for diversification of suppliers, the country appears to have changed its stance on China. Five months ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved the Chinese supplier’s offer of a limited number of 5G devices in the non-sensitive part of the network.
However, the decision was opposed by his party and the United States, which banned the supplier from its network on security grounds. It has also recently been in the dark, trying to cut off Huawei’s chip supply chain by changing regulations.
The British government revealed last month that it was examining the impact of new sanctions on the UK market in light of the escalating US crackdown on Huawei.
Bloomberg says the uk government is looking to phase out Huawei in the UK network by 2023, while also exploring a range of alternative suppliers to diversify its supply chain.
Zhang Jiangang, Huawei’s vice president, previously told the media that the reports were groundless. Government officials later told The Times that it was “impossible” to remove all Huawei’s technology from the UK’s mobile network by 2023. Instead, they are reportedly discussing a ban on the purchase and installation of new equipment starting in 2023.
Last week, the British government and Republican Senator Tom Cotton floated the idea of an alliance with allies to develop 5G devices as a technological alternative to China.