With the UK government’s decision to exclude Huawei from the fifth generation (5G) mobile communications system, finding a replacement for the Chinese telecom giant will be a key issue for the UK government. By using the seven-year grace period, the British government will apparently hasten to develop international cooperation with countries with advanced communication technology like Japan, but there are also calls in the country for expediting the “exit from Huawei.”
The British government will ban the purchase of Huawei products in and after 2021 and exclude all of its products from 5G communication networks by 2027. As the UK has been using Huawei’s products for about 15 years, “finding a replacement for Huawei will not be easy,” according a British expert on communications technology. Britain apparently intends to find a company with 5G technology that can replace Huawei during the grace period.
According to the British media, the search for a new supplier is likely to be carried out through international cooperation. Cooperation is being sought within the framework of the Five Eyes, a confidential information-sharing framework consisting of five English-speaking countries, as well as a group of ten democracies, the “D10,” which includes the seven industrialized nations (G7) plus Australia, South Korea, and India. With an eye on cooperating with a Japanese company, the UK is also in discussions with NEC, sources said. UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said, “Securing (alternative sources of procurement) cannot be achieved by the UK alone.”
The seven-year grace period also appears to respect the views of the country’s telecom companies, which oppose the hasty removal of Huawei. “Hasty elimination of Huawei products could lead to communication failure,” CEO Philip Jansen of British Telecom (BT), the largest telecom company in the UK, told the media on July 13. “Ideally, we want seven years to remove all Huawei products.”
However, some members of the British ruling Conservative Party, who are calling for an early break from dependence on China, have criticized the British government’s policy of establishing a seven-year grace period. Lower House member Bob Seeley, Conservative, sarcastically commented on the length of the grace period during a meeting of the Parliament on July 13, saying, “It seems like a long, slow goodbye to Huawei.” He added that “technology from a company that poses a security risk should not remain in our critical infrastructure,” calling for the early elimination of Huawei products.