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July 16, 2020

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A blow to UK’s ambition to become 5G leader

THE British government’s decision to ban Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks is “a hammer blow” to the country’s ambition to become a global 5G leader, an industry analyst warned on Tuesday.

“Having been on the back foot in 4G, the UK has enjoyed a strong 5G start with four live commercial networks already in place since the start of the year,” said Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, an industry analyst firm.

“The decision will inevitably lead to delays in 5G network roll-out and higher overall costs for operators,” Mann told Xinhua via e-mail.

The British government announced that buying new Huawei 5G equipment will be banned after December 31, 2020 and all Huawei equipment will be removed from the country’s 5G networks by the end of 2027.

“The timing (of the announcement) is particularly unfortunate, with the demand for high-quality connectivity never higher due to the coronavirus lockdown,” Mann said.

The British government announced in January its plans to safeguard the country’s telecoms network, approving a restricted role for Huawei in helping build the country’s 5G networks. Tuesday’s decision marks a U-turn in Britain’s policy concerning the Chinese technology company.

“We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain,” said Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK in a statement.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden admitted that the latest decision by the British government is expected to delay the country’s 5G roll-out.

From an economic viewpoint, eliminating Huawei from Britain’s 5G infrastructure market could be expected to lead to higher prices and delays in roll-out, according to a recent report released by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a research institute in Britain. A previous study, conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by Huawei, also said that restricting Huawei from helping to build Britain’s 5G infrastructure market would increase roll-out costs by 9 percent to 29 percent.

“Ultimately, this will impact consumers who could end up paying more for their service and have to wait longer to connect,” Mann said.


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