Coronavirus Pandemic Has Delayed 5G Rollout in the UK and Europe

By Shabana Arif on at

If you cast your mind back to pre-pandemic times, you'll remember that Huawei is still involved in the UK and Europe's 5G network, despite the furore around the decision. The Chinese company's gear is used in the 5G infrastructure, but the virus has caused delays that could go on for months.

Earlier this week, Huawei vice-president Victor Zhang confirmed that the covid-19 outbreak has "definitely" pushed back timelines, particularly in the UK and Europe. Senior executive, Eric Xu, has warned that these delays could last until “the time when the pandemic is brought under control". When that is, no one knows, although the minimum period it's predicted to last is being measured in months. The news scuppers plans for mobile operators banking on a wider network to support the new influx of 5G-ready smartphones, although considering they're handing over customer data to the government, I can't muster up any sympathy for them.

It's not all doom and gloom though, as a stockpile of parts was stored in UK warehouses when the outbreak kicked off in China, and Huawei's maintenance staff here in the UK have been categorised as essential workers so they can keep everything working, as well as getting 5G base stations up and running.

Over in China, now that the number of cases is on the decline, 5G rollout has been sped up to compensate for lost time. Xu says that whether or not other countries will follow suit depends on “several factors”, including budgets. It may not be financially feasible for telecoms companies to fork out extra cash to “win back the time” lost during the course of the pandemic. [BBC News]