With 5G being rolled out across the UK, the government has pledged to have a diversification strategy in place to plug any gaps. With over 150 towns across the UK getting access to 5G, these are exciting times. While it is a time of great opportunity in terms of connectivity, it can also be viewed as a time of grave threat.
Most worryingly, fears have mounted over the involvement of Huawei and a decision has been taken to exclude them from Britain’s 5G network. A new bill has been proposed which will see the UK government take over control of the 5G network and stop private companies from self-regulating.
Telecoms providers will therefore stop installing Huawei equipment and it is likely this will take effect in September 2021. But what will the impact of Huawei’s 5G ban have on the UK and could there be long-term ramifications?
Change in direction
The desire to push full steam ahead with the 5G has been admirable on the UK’s part. But the attempt to discredit and remove Huawei has been going on for a while. It was recently announced that Huawei would not be involved and it has been hoped they would have been removed sooner rather than later.
Nevertheless, the Telecommunications Security Bill has made safety the order of the day and Huawei had been blacklisted as being a ‘high-risk’ vendor. By getting rid of Huawei, it was believed that it would help open the marketplace.
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Initially, a lot of money was pumped in to help pave the way for the safe introduction of 5G and while the powers granted to the government are unprecedented, it marks a serious statement of intent from the powers in Westminster.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has hailed the bill and described it last month as ‘ground-breaking’.
He said: “We are investing billions to roll out 5G and gigabit broadband across the country but the benefits can only be realised if we have full confidence in the security and resilience of our networks.
“This ground-breaking bill will give the UK one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world and allow us to take the action necessary to protect our networks.”
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Political disputes ahead?
As reported by 4To5Jack.com, there has been a considerable amount of political wrangling between the UK and Huawei. There have been allegations of Huawei’s supposed threat to security and there has been pressure from the USA for Huawei’s networks to be removed.
Tensions have been fraught and Huawei’s vice-president Victor Zhang has previously suggested there were political undertones behind the UK’s decision to remove Huawei from the 5G network.
While Brexit has caused a big stir and created debate, it could impact on UK’s future trade deals with China. It will be fascinating to see what happens on that front.
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What is apparent is that telecoms firms could be hit with very heavy fines if they fail to abide by the legislation in the bill and this could equate to a total 10% of turnover which for many, would be more than £100,000 per day.
In the case of Huawei, this would spell bad news. For all the business that Huawei has done with the UK, this would be pushed to breaking point. Many Chinese businesses, particularly telecoms ones, would think twice about doing business in the UK and could potentially boycott deals with UK firms in the future. Whether this will materialise remains to be seen, but these are tense times for China and the UK.