Tele­coms firms call for tar­get on pulling out Huawei kit to be eased as ban looms

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Michael Cog­ley

BRI­TAIN’S tele­coms firms are urg­ing the Gov­ern­ment to scrap tar­gets to strip most Huawei kit from net­works by 2023 if tighter re­stric­tions on the Chi­nese gi­ant are un­veiled this week.

In Jan­uary, the Gov­ern­ment told providers that Huawei kit could only be used in the “non-core” el­e­ments of the next gen­er­a­tion 5G net­work, and a 35pc cap would be im­posed on its use in the wider net­work, in­clud­ing 3G and 4G, by 2023.

On Tues­day, min­is­ters are ex­pected to an­nounce a to­tal ban on all Huawei gear in Bri­tain’s 5G net­work. Oliver Dow­den, the Cul­ture Sec­re­tary, is ex­pected to tell net­works to re­move all of the Chi­nese firm’s equip­ment from their net­works by 2025.

In re­sponse, big net­works such as Voda­fone, Three, O2 and BT, are in­ten­si­fy­ing calls for the Gov­ern­ment to drop its orig­i­nal tar­gets set in Jan­uary to al­low for a smoother over­haul of thou­sands of tele­com tow­ers, masts and base sta­tions that rely on Chi­nese kit.

“There are sen­si­ble ways of rip­ping out net­work equip­ment, and there are less sen­si­ble ways of rip­ping out net­work equip­ment,” an in­dus­try source said.

“Longer timescales have a bunch of ben­e­fits, it means we can do more sen­si­ble net­work plan­ning that al­lows us to re­place kit in cell tow­ers while main­tain­ing ser­vice in the area.”

It was re­ported at the week­end that Huawei was seek­ing a last-minute meet­ing with the Gov­ern­ment be­fore the new mea­sures were an­nounced. How­ever, no such meet­ing is ex­pected.

“Huawei is a pri­vate com­pany, 100pc owned by its em­ploy­ees, and has no links to the Chi­nese mil­i­tary,” a spokesman for the com­pany said.

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