UK Decision on Huawei's 5G Role Won't Come Until After the General Election

By Gavin Whenman on at

Stop all the clocks, cut off the 5G phone, prevent Huawei from spying with a new postpone(ment).

The British government has yet again delayed a decision on the Chinese tech behemoth's role in the UK's 5G rollout, this time until after that general election everyone is just dying to talk about.

At issue is whether Huawei's kit, which they supply to all four of the UK's major mobile operators, would be allowed to continue being a part of Britain's fifth-generation mobile network, with some in government fearing the use of their hardware in the country's critical communications infrastructure constitutes a national security risk.

The company has, of course, denied the allegations and a ruling was originally expected in spring this year, back in the halcyon days of the Theresa May (remember her?) government, only to be delayed when May was shown the door and Boris Johnson was ushered through it. If Bloomberg is be believed, the decision now won't take place until 2020 due to 'purdah' rules restricting government decision-making during the election campaign.

It's widely expected that Johnson, like his predecessors, will allow Huawei to continue to provide radio kit, but not equipment for the core layer of the network, where data processing takes place. This is the case at the moment anyway, so nothing is really expected to change and, crucially, mobile operators won't be forced to mount the kind of costly full-scale 'rip-and-replace' of their 5G network that a complete ban would have entailed. A ruling in Huawei's favour will obviously upset the US, with the government of Donald Trump (ugh) pressing the UK to follow their lead in banning the Chinese company (although the move hasn't actually gone into effect yet).

Of course, after the general election on 12th December, it might not be Johnson who gets to make the decision. Does anyone know how Jo Swinson feels about Huawei? [Bloomberg via TechRadar]