Some of the UK’s leading mobile phone operators are seeking urgent clarification on the government’s position over the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
In a draft letter to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, seen by the BBC and intended to be sent this week, mobile operators want an ‘urgent meeting between industry leaders and the government to discuss their concerns.’
The demands reflect the companies’ frustrations over the current uncertainty of Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G infrastructure, which they say is impacting adversely on their plans for investment and development.
Operators are particularly concerned by the government’s apparent inability to decide whether Huawei technology will be approved for use, and, in a statement to the BBC, the government’s response was not especially forthcoming.
The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance. We have robust procedures in place to manage risks to national security and are committed to the highest possible security standards.
The Telecoms Supply Chain Review will be announced in due course. We have been clear throughout the process that all network operators will need to comply with the government’s decision.- Press Release: UK government
Earlier this year it was revealed that the government was considering allowing Huawei equipment to be incorporated into the periphery of the new 5G network, but not into the core of the systems. However, the decision remains unconfirmed after the UK faced backlash from its allies – particularly from the United States, which banned the use of Huawei’s technology last month amid concerns of national security issues.
As a result of the confusion EE said it had delayed the launch of Huawei’s 5G phones ‘until we get the information and confidence and the long-term security that our customers are going to be supported.’ Likewise, Vodafone also announced its was suspending orders of Huawei 5G handsets.
Despite suggestions of being the leading supplier of next-gen connectivity equipment, the decision by the US government to ban the tech company’s involvement in its infrastructure has had a knock-on effect which the company is reeling from. While Huawei continues to insist it poses no security threat and is being deliberately blocked due to political friction between the US and China, the beleaguered company has been hard hit across the globe.
The biggest hit came last month when Google announced it would no longer share hardware, software and technical services with the Chinese company, while, in the UK, processor designer ARM instructed employees to suspend ties with the Chinese company.
The latest potential impact of the US-China trade war is the rumour that Huawei may exit the PC market, with the end of their popular MateBook series of laptops. According to reports Huawei has asked parts suppliers to suspend deliveries and has, it is believed, halted new notebook projects.
Image: Robert Radke