For­mer BT chief Liv­ingston to lead search for Huawei al­ter­na­tives

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Michael Cog­ley and James Cook

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.

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