Huawei will urge the UK to delay 5G equipment removal

The Chinese company has reportedly requested a meeting with UK prime minister Boris Johnson

Huawei shop

UPDATE: Huawei has denied reports from The Sunday Times that it had requested a meeting with the prime minister. 

Speaking to IT Pro, a spokeswoman for Huawei said that the company is “continuing official government conversations with the DCMS and NCSC”.

“At this stage, there is not much more guidance we can give on that,” she added.

The Huawei spokeswoman confirmed that the company is planning a response to the UK government’s decision and “will keep [IT Pro] posted on that”.

13/07/2020: Huawei has requested to meet with prime minister Boris Johnson to discuss a potential deal that could delay the removal of Huawei equipment from the UK's 5G infrastructure, The Sunday Times reported yesterday.

According to the newspaper, the Chinese company is looking to push back its ban from the country’s telecom networks and is hoping that a new government elected in 2025 may decide to reverse the decision. 

In return, Huawei will commit to keeping its remaining equipment in the UK, which is not only used in 5G infrastructure, but also in the country’s 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.

IT Pro has contacted Huawei’s PR team for comment but is yet to get a response from the company. 

The report from The Sunday Times comes days after Vodafone and BT announced that they would need at least five years to remove equipment manufactured by Huawei from the UK’s networks.

Vodafone warned that the process could take a “sensible time scale” of five years minimum and cost “single figure billions” of pounds, while BT representatives stated that the operator may require up to seven years to do so.

Today, BT CEO Philip Jansen told BBC radio that moving too fast to ban Huawei from the 5G network could cause outages and security issues.

“We need to make sure that any change of direction does not lead to more risk in the short term,” he said. “If we get to a situation where things need to go very very fast, then you are into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT Group mobile customers is put into question - outages.”

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that the UK government is seeking to persuade its Five Eyes partners to work together in finding a suitable industrial alternative to Huawei in order to eradicate the dependence on Chinese technology.

In January, the UK granted Huawei a "limited" role in its 5G infrastructure, excluding from all safety-related and critical networks and only allowing it to supply 35% of the hardware that connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.

However, the decision is now expected to be legally overturned in a matter of weeks, with a government update on the Chinese company expected to be published before 22 July. 

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