Thought leadership

A decision on whether controversial Chinese firm Huawei should be excluded from the rollout of 5G mobile phone networks in the UK has been postponed.

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said the government is “not yet in a position” to decide what involvement Huawei should have in the 5G network. Mr Wright said the implication of the recent US ban on its companies from dealing with Huawei was not clear.

Until it was, he said the government would be “wrong” to make a decision. “We will do so as soon as possible,” he told the House of Commons.

The US banned companies from selling components and technology to Huawei and 68 related companies on 15 May, citing national security concerns.

It later issued a temporary licence that enabled some companies to continue supporting existing Huawei networks and devices.

Mr Wright said the US decision “could have a potential impact on the future availability and reliability of Huawei’s products, together with other market impacts, and so are relevant considerations in determining Huawei’s involvement in the network”.

Last week, MPs said the government needed to make a decision on Huawei as “a matter of urgency”, warning continued delays were damaging international relations.

Huawei has repeatedly denied claims the use of its products presents security risks, and has said it is independent from the Chinese government.

Huawei, vice president Victor Zhang said it was confident “that we can continue to work with network operators to rollout 5G across the UK.”

“After 18 years of operating in the UK, we remain committed to supporting BT, EE, Vodafone and other partners build secure, reliable networks.”

“The evidence shows excluding Huawei would cost the UK economy £7bn and result in more expensive 5G networks, raising prices for anyone with a mobile device,” he added.

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