UK confident 5G decision to be made in its own national interests: ambassador

By Li Meng and Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/18 1:44:20

China's telecom giant Huawei displays 5G technology at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. (Xinhua/Guo Qiuda)

The British government is confident that it will decide on implementing 5G network based in its own national interests, a senior UK official told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"The decision is both in terms of technology and national security," said Barbara Woodward, British Ambassador to China, on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of "UK Day," which showcased British gardening and culture, at the ongoing International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing on Tuesday.

Woodward said at the current stage the UK has still not decided which company would be involved in the next-generation buildup or when the decision would be announced.

When asked by the Global Times whether the UK will be influenced by the US's ban on 5G technologies provided by Chinese tech giant Huawei, Woodward said the UK has a good relationship with Huawei as well as a strong and growing relationship with China.

"We haven't yet made a decision about how we'll tender our 5G contracts, but as you know, we have a good relationship with Huawei already. Yes, our new prime minister has already had close contacts with the US, but it's also true he has had very warm letters from the senior leadership from the Chinese government," Woodward noted.

"The UK has very strong partnership with Huawei over the last 10 to 15 years. Huawei has a strong presence in the UK's telecommunications, 3G and 4G. It has a strong presence in the R&D in the UK. It has sponsored a lot of events in the UK, so I would say Huawei is very well established in the UK as a telecommunications partner and that's important," Woodward said.

While the speed and data that 5G can bring is desired by the British public, it is equally significant to "make sure that our citizens are going to be secure," she added.  

In July, the British government published a report looking at the challenges of moving to 5G in the UK, which concluded the nation needs to develop and pursue a diversification strategy, including working with international partners, to ensure a competitive, sustainable and diverse supply chain, while keeping the new security framework under regular review.

Despite being urged to deal with the specific issue of Huawei, the British government has held off. 

The UK is set to announce its decision on 5G by the autumn, the BBC reported in August, citing British Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Industry analysts have said there seems to be zero alternatives for the UK if the government would ban Huawei's involvement in the 5G networks. A ban, if implemented, would be a major blow to the speed with which 5G can be rolled out in the UK.

Accusing Huawei of being a security threat, the US has been forcing its allies, such as the UK to exclude Huawei equipment from 5G networks. However, the US hasn't shown any convincing evidence to support its accusations. 

Meanwhile, Huawei is continuously expanding its footprint in the UK. UK mobile operator Three launched its first 5G broadband service in August, using Huawei wireless gear, making it the third UK carrier to use the Chinese telecommunications giant's products despite the US push for its allies to block the company.

Two other UK carriers - EE and Vodafone - have also used Huawei's 5G equipment.

Huawei has secured more than 50 5G commercial contracts globally as well as shipment of over 200,000 5G base stations, the company said on September 3.  

Posted in: EUROPE

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