According to a bloomberg report, the UK says it needs to protect Nokia of Finland and Ericsson of Sweden after the government banned the use of Chinese Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G networks. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, told government MPs on Wednesday that excluding Huawei would mean the number of key telecoms providers in the UK would be reduced from three to just two, so the UK could no longer let any one disappear.
“The biggest direct risk to diversification would be the loss of another supplier, so this is very much highlighted in our consideration and discussion.” Oliver Dowden told officials at the Science and Technology Commission. This involves “following the basic capital position of these companies and seeing if further action is needed to address this”.
Last week, the British government said its operators must remove Huawei 5G devices from their networks by the end of 2027, and said U.S. sanctions would make it unable to guarantee the sustainability or safety of the devices. The ban overturns the British government’s decision in January when Boris Johnson, the prime minister, announced that Huawei would be allowed to participate in the construction of a 5G network on a limited part of the country.
Oliver Dowden said the prime minister would set up a task force led by senior industry executives to “promote” telecoms diversification. Government officials are considering candidates for the post.
Oliver Dowden says the UK’s diversification strategy includes projects to introduce new market players for the next generation of wireless communications and to promote product collaboration between different companies. He told government officials that further details of the move would be released in September, when the government would also introduce a telecommunications security bill to tighten standards and enshrine Huawei’s ban into law.
“The reality is that Samsung or NEC will be the best candidates to enter the UK market, despite the huge challenges.” This, he says, is partly an allusion to Samsung’s lack of support for older 2G and 3G systems.
Oliver Dowden says diversifying with Open RAN is a longer-term goal, five years before the technology’s first major deployment.