Ex-BT boss picked to lead search for Huawei replacement

Removing the Chinese firm from the UK's 5G network leaves just Nokia and Ericsson as potential providers

A telecoms mast with 5G equipment attached

The former chief executive of BT is to head up a government task force to find an alternative telecoms provider to replace Huawei. 

Lord Ian Livingston left BT in 2013 to become the government's trade minister under then Prime Minster David Cameron. He is currently the chair of Dixons Carphone.

However, he will now lead a government body that seeks to diversify the country's telecoms supply chain and reduce reliance on so-called 'high risk' vendors.

Despite its prominent presence across the country's 5G infrastructure, Huawei was banned from UK networks by the government in July, with telecoms operators being instructed to remove the firm's equipment from their networks by 2027.

Livingston will head up a team that includes Openreach CEO Clive Selley, Vodafone CTO Scott Petty, and the chair of the UK's 5G Advisory Board, Rosalind Singleton.

The removal of Huawei's role in UK networking has left just Nokia and Ericsson as the sole providers, but ministers are hoping to encourage more major players into the market.

In July, shortly after the government reversed its decision to allow Huawei limited access, it was reported that two officials met with Japanese counterparts to discuss alternatives. Fujitsu and NEC were named as potential replacements with both firms looking for further opportunities in Europe. The UK and Japan have also recently agreed a preliminary trade deal, which will almost certainly help smooth over any potential network talks.

The UK's new 5G task force will also work with Dr Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) who led the organisation's investigation into apparent security threats from Huawei.

"To deliver the revolutionary benefits of 5G networks for people and businesses, we need to be confident in their security and resilience," said culture secretary Oliver Dowden, announcing the appointment on Wednesday.

"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."

Featured Resources

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Evaluate your order-to-cash process

15 recommended metrics to benchmark your O2C operations

Download now

AI 360: Hold, fold, or double down?

How AI can benefit your business

Download now

Getting started with Azure Red Hat OpenShift

A developer’s guide to improving application building and deployment capabilities

Download now

Most Popular

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail
email delivery

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail

6 Jan 2021
The fate of Parler exposes the reality of deregulated social media
Policy & legislation

The fate of Parler exposes the reality of deregulated social media

14 Jan 2021
Should IT departments call time on WhatsApp?

Should IT departments call time on WhatsApp?

15 Jan 2021