Huawei to be shown exit door from 5G and possibly telecoms networks allegedly
Given the potential delays and scope that removing Huawei 5G kit from existing 5G networks and sourcing replacement kit for hardware already on order the need various UK telecoms operators need to have an urgent statement on the record from the Government over exactly what is to happen with Huawei hardware in the UK.
As things stand today all the press coverage is based on a quote from a spokesperson originally quoted in The Guardian and Telegraph.
In January 2020 it was announced that use of Huawei 5G kit would be capped at 35% of the core network, but it appears now after protracted pressure from the United States of America that this is set to change to 0% of the core and its unclear what the fate of Huawei kit elsewhere will be e.g. 3G/4G/5G antenna, existing VDSL2 cabinets, Huawei FTTP ONT and Huawei headends in exchanges.
If there is a proven hack/leak of sensitive data from Huawei kit then one presumes that evidence would be produced or if of a sensitive nature statements would be made pointing this out and trusted parties allowed to verify this. For now though it looks more like a mixture of geo politics and fears of the unknown are driving policy.
In the 5G world the options if you ignore Huawei are basically Nokia and Ericsson and if the issue is really China spying how confident can anyone be that the supply chains of competitors are not compromised. If China is using its electronic exports to run spy networks it is unlikely they will be tied to a specific company and extra code or hardware to syphon off data will be in many places.
Huawei has been under scrutiny for some time and one presumes the same scrutiny will apply to hardware and software from other suppliers.
The 5G networks if they were fully standalone are at a size where removal of Huawei is difficult but reasonably possible. The problem is that improvements in the fifth generation of mobile network also includes core network upgrades that will already have other mobile traffic using them.
Removing Huawei from the 1,200 or so handover exchanges i.e. replacing Huawei head ends with Nokia is again possible and as the amount of FTTP increases there are exchanges with Nokia headends already so for some there is potential for this to be a reconfiguration and rewiring exercise and ensuring wholesalers have connectivity on the Nokia headend.
The issue around Huawei VDSL2 cabinets of which there is at least 66,000 on street corners around the UK is harder as the least downtime solution would be to stand and commision a new cabinet and then move the copper connections down. As this would need a new spot on the pavement that will be difficult in some areas and this a turn and lift off old cabinet and replace with a new one might be cheaper but could mean a days downtime. The more likely solution is to commit to no new Huawei VDSL2 cabinets, which given the small numbers being added each week is not difficult and then once the Salisbury WLR switch off and porting of an entire exchange to FTTP has worked successfuly other areas will follow and the Huawei cabinets removed. How long to remove all the Huawei cabinets is a big guess but given that the FTTP build has to be complete looking at around 2030.
Who will pay for all the work and new kit is unknown, hence the why we need official statements and budget support announced so if the nuclear option is what is desired that firms can start planning immediately.
Of course even if the UK was Huawei free as soon as anyone went to any country that had Huawei kit the worries would return.
A final reason why on the record statements are needed is that in an information vacuum conspiracy theories thrive and a banning of Huawei 5G kit is no doubt going to be latched onto by some either for their own gain be that financial or just giggles.