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Published: August 2019 (5 Min Read)

5G in the UK, Huawei, and a Trade Deal with Trump – Is there an accident waiting to happen?

Within the telecommunications sector, three major mobile network providers have chosen to partner with Huawei.

One spokesman said, “the 5G technology is deployed on top of existing 4G infrastructure, so if you want to deploy a 5G base station, you have to deploy it on top of an existing 4G base station and you can’t mix vendors. If your base station is a Huawei 4G base station, and you want to deploy 5G – it has to be Huawei, you can’t deploy Ericsson. That interoperability doesn’t work.”

Donald Trump has been trying to get Huawei banned, although he has had to backtrack a few times. The same spokesman remarked that “if Huawei were to be banned, we would have to stop deploying 5G in those areas and swap the 4G base stations. That would obviously cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.” (Source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/06/20/vodafone_eager_for_gov_to_conclude_review_into_huawei/)

Meanwhile the White House said that “Donald Trump and Boris Johnson discussed Huawei and 5G technology at a bilateral meeting on the side lines of a G7 summit in France on Sunday”. (Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-g7-summit-trump-johnson-huawei-tech/trump-johnson-discuss-huawei-on-g7-sidelines-idUKKCN1VF08U)

Separately Digital Minister, Nicky Morgan, commented that Britain will make a decision on whether to allow China’s Huawei equipment to be used in its 5G networks in the autumn. “We’ve got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure that we keep all our networks secure.” (Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49481270)

If Boris puts himself at Trump’s mercy, he will be unpopular with our leading mobile providers, and probably with a few frustrated customers.

In June, China warned the UK that excluding Huawei from its 5G network “sends a very bad signal”. (Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49481270)

Boris will need more than bluster to deal with this.

Article written by
Simon James