UK MOBILE CARRIERS are still gambling on Huawei to get 5G rolled out on time, even though the government could rain on their parade at any time.
Although it has been leaked that outgoing prime minister Theresa May is happy for non-core equipment from Huawei to be rolled out in the country… she… loves… there has been no official decision taken on Huawei's future in the UK as a network provider.
As a result, there's a chance that, if an out-and-out ban is enforced, carriers will have to replace existing equipment at their own expense, driving the cost-to-market of 5G up by some margin.
It's understood that Vodafone, now live in seven cities, has Huawei support in six of them. It's also understood that EE is already in bed with the Chinese giant for hundreds of cells in its rollout, and that Huawei has a contract to provide equipment for both Three, due to launch next month, and O2, the last of the four 5G infrastructure providers to announce its launch plans.
Just to add to the complicated picture, EE's parent company BT has already said that it is pulling Huawei equipment out of its existing infrastructure, illustrating just how fluid the picture still is.
Any hope that the US decision to allow licences to trade with Huawei, after all, would bring clarity has so far been dashed and as such, making it even more complicated for the UK to make a decision on its own policy.
It's been estimated that a ban on Huawei in the UK could set back the progress of 5G by up to two years, but proceeding as planned could impact on the UK's place as one of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing network.
Huawei is notable by its absence from the handsets offered by the EE and Vodafone launches, but the handsets were never the primary concern, and it appears the networking and infrastructure part of the business is pressing on regardless. For now at least. μ
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