Soften blow for oust­ing Huawei by cut­ting 5G prices, telecoms firms urge min­is­ters

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By James Cook and Si­mon Foy

TELECOMS firms have urged min­is­ters to slash the price they pay to buy 5G band­width so they can avoid hik­ing bills to cover a £2bn hit from rip­ping out Huawei equip­ment.

The lob­by­ing comes af­ter Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ca­tions ti­tan Huawei re- vealed it earned 454bn yuan (£51bn) in the first half of 2020, up 13.1pc from a year ear­lier de­spite the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Some of the UK’s largest mo­bile oper­a­tors are ask­ing min­is­ters to in­ter­vene in Of­com’s next spec­trum auc­tion, where they buy ul­tra-fast 5G in­ter­net cov­er­age. The firms want prices cut, off­set­ting the steep cost of re­mov­ing ex­ist­ing 4G and 5G equip­ment which has been es­ti­mated at al­most £2bn.

Min­is­ters are to­day ex­pected to in­tro­duce a 2025 dead­line for oper­a­tors to strip out all Huawei equip­ment from their 5G net­works. In­dus­try in­sid­ers say net­works hope a drop in prices at the Novem­ber 5G auc­tion could help them avoid pass­ing on the cost of re­mov­ing equip­ment to mil­lions of or­di­nary cus­tomers through higher bills.

Re­fer­ring to the re­moval of Huawei equip­ment, Philip Jansen, BT chief ex­ec­u­tive, said yes­ter­day: “If you get into a sit­u­a­tion where [re­plac­ing] things need to go very, very fast, then you’re into a sit­u­a­tion where po­ten­tially a ser­vice for 24 mil­lion BT group mo­bile cus­tomers is put into ques­tion – out­ages would be pos­si­ble.”

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