Broadband News

All Huawei 5G kit to be removed from UK by 2027 - UPDATED

The roll-out of 5G in the UK is set to cost around £2 billion more than expected and face delays of two years based on the news around what operators will have to do. The short summary based on what has been said in the House of Commons

  • No new Huawei 5G equipment to be purchased by the of this year
  • All Huawei 5G equipment to be removed from UK networks by 2027
  • The requirements for removal will be enshired in law, rather than be guidance.
  • This announcement means a delay of around two years for the roll-out of 5G in the UK
  • Cost impact is estimated at around £2 billion

The impact on full fibre, VDSL2 and other fixed broadband networks is less, with a technical consultation set to take place to see what alternatives exist for operators to roll-out full fibre. The aim here is to ensure that the 2025 Gigabit target does not face a similar delay to the 5G roll-out.

In his statement to the House of Commons Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP (link may expire but was valid on 14th July 2020) starting at 12:37:37, The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made it clear that this change in the UK stance since January 2020 is down to the sanctions imposed by the United States in May 2020 which materially affect the ability to ensure the security of Huawei equipment.

So good news, the 70,000 Huawei VDSL2 cabinets and existing hardware in use at headend exchanges and core devices in various networks for fixed broadband will not need to be ripped out. While the UK Government has stopped short of saying telecoms operators cannot buy any Huawei equipment seems unlikely that any significantly sized operators will invest heavily in new Huawei kit even if just for fixed network use.

By 2027 it is likely that VDSL2 cabinets in some areas will start to be decommissioned, the pace of this being determined by the roll-out of full fibre and subsequent bulk migrations of customers off of existing ECI and Huawei VDSL2 hardware. Some cabinets will also be almost 20 years old at that point and thus at the end of their working life anyway.

Diversity and competition in the supply chain or put more correctly the lack of it in relation to the supply of leading edge telecommunications kit was mentioned and while it is always easy to blame the current Government, we believe it is fair to say that successive Governments for many decades in the UK have not encouraged key technology industries to remain active within the UK at all stages of the supply chain. The UK is still generally doing well in the research sphere but once you get to production innovation and manufacture at scale we are very poor and even when technology is assembled in the UK it is often reliant on silicon from places like China.

Update Wednesday 15th July 2020: Adding a few words about the changes that impact full fibre (FTTP) networks, the technical consultation around full fibre is part of a transition period that will last two years. The immediate change is that firms are expected to stop buying new Huawei equipment, but the transition process exists in an effort to allow firms to continue buying Huawei FTTP kit if to not do so was going to delay roll-outs and put the 2025 target in jeopardy. No date such as the 2027 date for FTTP networks to have removed all Huawei kit has been given, but given the position the UK held in January it would not be wise to assume that a date for removal does not end up written into law.


Is the Chinese government actually using Huawei equipment to spy on the British or are we just jumping to the tune of the US?

  • broadband66
  • 8 months ago

If there was absolute proof of Huawei kit being used to spy then that would be the end of in any network, along with a wave of expulsions of diplomats.

Talk seems to be of risks rather than proven incidents

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

The bully across the pond probably would have slapped sanctions on the UK if it didn't follow its lead wrt Huawei so ministers here had no choice.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 8 months ago

I'm sure it's nothing to do with fears over conditions of any "America First" trade deal with the USA that is being talked up.

Merely coincidental is the rising tide of isolationism and protectionism.

In no way is it a "Don't look at me look over there!" diversion tactic or the latest wave of vilifying "foreigners" and overseas governments when things are going badly at home.


OR - someone got bored with bashing North Korea and switched to China.

Not so long ago our partnership with China developing energy generating capacity was being trumpeted in celebratory press releases.

  • prlzx
  • 8 months ago

More seriously UK already have a managed relationship between our Info-Sec services and Huawei, even a shared test centre for this, for verifying equipment and embedded software images.

Huawei and other vendors have been involved with our 3G / 4G networks for many years - claiming a sudden jump in risk but only for this one vendor sounds suspect.

Even if 5G is a new generation of equipment as regards RF/carrier kit, it does not follow that there are radically new methods to compromise software / firmware, or to exfiltrate data that have never been seen, or are somehow inherent to 5G.

  • prlzx
  • 8 months ago

Also the actual argument being made is self-fulfilling and somewhat circular.

"Huawei equipment must become more risky because USA is denying Huawei access to USA-made chips"
noting this is an unilateral decision and as part of a wider trade dispute for example around steel, effects on trade deficits.

So say your industries buy a finished product from Huawei (or indeed any vendor); why would you care about the component parts but also choose to impose an embargo which makes the type of product you buy worse in some way, while also costing your industries more in import tariffs you imposed?

  • prlzx
  • 8 months ago

I think the problem is that the Chinese government insist that all Chinese companies are under their control and that China can insist they build in back doors or provide data extracts at any time - Huawei and other companies deny this has happened but there is little trust for between China and the West to take this on face value.

Interesting that USA don't recognise EU data protection laws either and therefore the same could be said for all US companies but of course we trust our allies on the other side of the pond implicitly.

  • ian72
  • 8 months ago


Even sillier, all the potential replacement vendors have their kit made in China using the chips from manufacturers GCHQ cannot verify the security of, the same chips that are causing Huawei to be removed. So we move from verified chips in Huawei Kit to unverified chips in x/y/z kit at a higher cost and longer deployment timescales. Seems to be the Law of unintended consequences in operation. ( Most of me would prefer to trust a trade integrated China rather than an America first bully that couldn't care about anyone else).

  • jumpmum
  • 8 months ago

@broadband66, we are just humping away to the tune of the U.S, Trump says jump and then Boris asks Dominic to ask Trump how high.

  • zyborg47
  • 8 months ago

Good news, the Chinese government is not to be trusted and shouldn't have any involvement in critical infrastructure. Just look at what they are doing in Hong Kong and the million + Muslims they have in detention camps.

Ideally it would be all made by UK companies, but if not, by an EU country.

  • astateoftrance
  • 8 months ago

Excellent news.

Well done Boris!

  • Alucidnation
  • 8 months ago

This is a very stupid decision. Getting rid of Huawei kits means operators have to now use kits from Nokia or other manufacturers that will end up costing more!

This is like buying a Samsung phone from Carphone Warehouse, for the same specifications Huawei will make a cheaper device.

No wonder it is now costing 2 billion pounds more, that 2 billion could've been spent in deploying FTTP in a few more towns & cities!

This is not the right time to try & take revenge against China, ultimately it will backfire & is against UK's interest. Pleasing Trump is only beneficial for Trump, not the UK.

  • 8 months ago

The decision by UK should have been made after the US election when hopefully incompetent Trump will have gone for good.

  • zhango
  • 8 months ago

CNN's take -

"It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide"

So business as usual then.

  • camieabz
  • 8 months ago

camieabz.CNN really hahahahaha

The Chinese government should not be trusted

  • ste211270
  • 8 months ago

"As part of the high-level behind-the-scenes contacts, Huawei was told that geopolitics had played a part, and was given the impression that it was possible the decision could be revisited in future, perhaps if Trump failed to win a second term and the anti-China stance in Washington eased."

(Guardian/Observer, Sat 18 Jul 2020 20.34 BST)

  • prlzx
  • 8 months ago

Huawei has been reliable for 3G and 4G tehcnologies. And all of sudden they becomes unsecured in a few months, is it a joke?

  • rian
  • 8 months ago

Alas this is going to be ever more common now we've left Europe and the US is our only friend (if you can call the person rogering you a 'friend')...

  • keith969
  • 7 months ago

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