Former BT chief Livingston to lead search for Huawei alternatives
LORD LIVINGSTON, the former BT chief executive and trade minister, is to lead Britain’s efforts to find alternative telecoms providers after China’s Huawei was barred from the country’s 5G networks.
Lord Livingston will chair a new task force to reduce the country’s exposure to “high-risk” vendors like Huawei. It will also include Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, and Scott Petty, Vodafone’s technology chief.
Britain’s network providers were ordered to strip billions of pounds worth of Huawei kit from UK networks in July amid national security concerns. Operators have until the end of 2027 to remove all Huawei equipment.
The Telecoms Diversification Task Force will provide advice on alternative technology. Digital secretary Oliver
Dowden said that Britain needed to be “confident” in the security and resilience of companies building the 5G networks.
“A more diverse supply chain is essential to reducing our dependence on individual suppliers and improving telecoms security – as well as a great economic opportunity for the UK,” he said.
Lord Livingston said the UK was already a leading nation in the adoption of digital communications. “It is vital that we position ourselves for the next generation of technology, particularly 5G, by having a wide choice of secure, innovative and high quality suppliers,” he said.
It comes amid increasing pressure from the US, which claims that Beijing could use Huawei equipment for espionage. Huawei has continually denied the claims.
Yesterday, Guo Ping, the chairman of Huawei, accused the US government of showing “non-stop aggression” towards the Chinese technology business.
“Huawei is in a difficult situation these days,” he said. “Non-stop aggression has put us under significant pressure. We’re still assessing the specific impacts. Right now, survival is the goal.”
The US government has escalated its sanctions on Huawei this year, blocking the company from accessing key American suppliers and software used to design crucial components for its smartphones and other devices.