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BT/EE says that Huawei 5G removal date of 2027 means cost won’t rise above £500 million

BT has said the 2027 date stated in yesterday’s UK Government Huawei ruling means “additional activity” in replacing 5G equipment, but that it won’t cost any more than the £500 million estimate it gave back in January. 

That estimate was made at the time of the previous Government ruling which still enabled networks to use up to 35 percent of Huawei gear in their non-core networks. However, the goalposts have now changed thanks to the National Cyber Security Centre revising its guidance in the light of Huawei’s ban on using US tech. 

  • UK 5G networks to stop using Huawei gear: What does that really mean?

There is a slight question mark over full-fibre networks – including that run by BT Openreach. The Government suggested yesterday that the implications for those still need to be worked through. BT says “We will continue to work with relevant authorities as they consult on the future procurement strategy for fixed networks.” As you might expect, there’s plenty of Huawei gear in action there.

Other networks have been less forthcoming. Vodafone said it “is studying [the] announcement”.

“Obviously we are disappointed because this decision – as the government has highlighted today – will add delay to the rollout of 5G in the UK and will result in additional costs for the industry.

“We will work with the government to address the implications of this decision, including the cost and the need to increase vendor diversity.”

O2 is understandably less concerned about the announcement as it uses very little Huawei gear in its 5G network. O2’s “primary partners” for 5G rollout are Nokia and Ericsson. “We have no Huawei kit in our core network,” said a spokesperson. “In the Radio Access layer (RAN) that we manage, only 0.3% of our network sites use Huawei (these are trial sites which are being replaced).”

Three UK hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment. Three uses no Huawei gear in its 5G core – instead Nokia tech is used. However, like other networks, there is some Huawei equipment elsewhere. 

The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming said of the ruling: “Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei. It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”

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