October 21, 2020

1358 words 7 mins read

UK commits 250 million to diversify 5G equipment sources

UK commits 250 million to diversify 5G equipment sources

New investment will include spending on 5G diversification, local fibre networks and Shared Rural Network 4G initiative, government says

       The UK government will spend 250 million over next few years to diversify its 5G equipment supply chain and to help carriers remove Huawei 5G equipment from their mobile networks.

Around 50 million of the sum will be made available next year to help

build “a secure and resilient 5G network” according to the documents published this week as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s annual spending review [pdf]. The government said the new investment will include spending on 5G diversification, local fibre networks and Shared Rural Network 4G initiatives. The government’s pledge to diversify its 5G supply chain comes following a decision in July to remove Huawei’s equipment from British 5G mobile networks by 2027 over security concerns. British officials said at the time that US sanctions were impacting the Huawei supply chain, and it was becoming difficult to verify the security of Huawei’s equipment. The government then directed mobile operators not to purchase any new Huawei equipment from January 2021 - a decision that the Chinese company found very “disappointing”. The core issue with Huawei, according to US officials, is its links with the Chinese government and fears that its network equipment could be used to spy on western countries. In May last year, the US Department of Commerce added Huawei in its Entity List, effectively banning the Chinese firm from US communications networks. Since UK government’s decision to ban Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia have won major equipment contracts from British mobile carriers like BT and Three UK. However, there are also concerns about these two companies. Experts fear that in absence of competition, the pair could have a virtual duopoly in British 5G market, and that over-reliance on only two vendors can also be technically problematic in the event of equipment failures. In September, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced to recruit a panel of eight industry experts to help find ways to eliminate mobile firm’s over-reliance on one or two suppliers and to explore development of openRAN technologies. The task force announced by the government features ex-BT CEO Ian Livingston, as well as representatives from Openreach and Vodafone. OpenRAN technologies, which would be based on vendor-neutral hardware, and software defined on common standards, could potentially help mobile carriers to cut the cost of building new 5G networks. The technology could also help in opening the 5G market to a more diverse set of smaller vendors. In July, BT and Vodafone warned of delays in 5G and broadband rollouts, service disruption and costs possibly running to ‘billions’ if Huawei equipment were to be removed too quickly. Earlier this week, the government presented the Telecommunications (Security) Bill in the Parliament, proposing fines of as much as 10 per cent of sales, or 100,000 a day, on mobile operators that breach security directives - such as allowing Huawei gear into their networks. It also emerged that the government is considering a ban on installing Huawei’s 5G equipment as soon as next year, to pacify politicians who are pressing for tougher restrictions on the Chinese telecom giant. A report by the House of Commons' Defence Committee last month recommended the government to consider the removal of all Huawei equipment from its 5G networks earlier than planned. The report said that the government should consider providing compensation to telecom companies if the 2027 deadline is brought forward.

Author: devz123@gmail.com(Dev Kundaliya)

Date: 2020-11-27

URL: https://www.computing.co.uk/news/4024039/uk-commits-gbp250-million-diversify-5g-equipment-sources


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