Vodafone and BT Join Forces to Tell PM That Banning Huawei is Bullshit

By Shabana Arif on at

With just a couple of weeks left before the UK has to make its decision on Huawei, the two telecoms giants have stepped into the fray.

The end of January is looming large on the Prime Minister's decision on whether or not to allow Huawei to continue to be involved in the UK's 5G infrastructure, with the US continuing to insist that the Chinese tech giant is a security threat. Subsequently, if the UK decides to engage in business with the company, the country has threatened to stop sharing intelligence with us - something that both the head of MI5 and the EU Trade Commissioner are calling bullshit on.

The US event sent a delegation to turn the screws last week, proclaiming to have evidence of nefarious goings-on, although a British official said “we’d already anticipated the kind of threat that the US material demonstrates and factored that into our planning.” Now BT and Vodafone are getting involved to tell the Prime Minister that this game of silly buggers needs to come to an end.

Chief executives Philip Jansen (BT) and Nick Read (Vodafone) are reportedly penning a letter to Boris Johnson pointing to the US' unsubstantiated claims that Huawei is a security risk, and explaining that actually, a total ban would be bloody stupid. Removing Huawei kit from some core equipment would be easy enough and would alleviate any of the more serious security concerns, but when it comes to other aspects, like towers, replacing it could knock back the country's transition to 5G by as much as two years.

This is something that needs to be factored into the decision-making process, particularly when the US has no evidence against Huawei, or any suggestions for an alternative in its stead.

“The point is that the US have no plan B,” said a source from the British government. Where that leaves us at the end of January, however, is anyone's guess. [The Guardian]