The UK announced Tuesday that it would ban Huawei equipment from the country’s new 5G network. The government said that mobile network operators won’t be allowed to purchase Huawei equipment after December 2020. Any existing Huawei gear has to be removed from the network by 2027.
“As facts have changed, so has our approach,” said UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, whose department is also in charge of telecommunications. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK’s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”
Dowden admitted that the move will result in an “accumulative delay” of the country’s 5G mobile network rollout by up to three years and cost as much as £2 billion ($2.5 billion).
Huawei said that the UK’s announcement is about “US trade policy and not security” and urged the government to reconsider the decision.
“This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the U.K. with a mobile phone,” Huawei UK Spokesman Ed Brewster said. “It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”
The UK government in January said that Huawei equipment could supply only non-core parts of its new 5G networks with a limited market share of 35%.
The UK decision marks a major policy reversal and comes after the US imposed new restrictions on Huawei in May. The US turned its sanctions against Huawei into a global campaign, prohibiting any American chip maker to collaborate with Huawei and warning allies not to use Huawei as a supplier in their 5G kits.