The UK is poised to end the use of Huawei technology in its 5G network as soon as this year over security concerns, according to reports.
Boris Johnson is set for a major policy change after GCHQ is believed to have reassessed the risks posed by the Chinese company, The Sunday Telegraph said.
The prime minister decided in January to allow Huawei to play a limited role in the UK’s 5G network as he defied security concerns, particularly from the US, about the firm.
But a study set to be presented to Mr Johnson this week will declare that US sanctions on Huawei will force the company to use technology that is “untrusted”, reports say.
A report by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre has decided the US sanctions barring Huawei from using technology relying on American intellectual property has had a “severe” impact on the firm, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper stated that officials are crafting proposals to prevent new Huawei equipment being installed in the 5G network in as little as six months.
In January, Mr Johnson gave Huawei the green light to build 35% of Britain’s next generation of internet infrastructure, with other conditions that it will be excluded from all safety critical networks and from sensitive geographic locations such as nuclear sites and military bases.
The involvement of the Chinese tech firm in Britain’s 5G network is believed to have caused tension between the US and UK in recent months.
A number of prominent figures on the Conservative backbenches have also raised concerns.
Critics fear that allowing Huawei to build the network would be handing control of infrastructure to Beijing.
There are also concerns that, with the company’s close links to the Chinese government, the equipment could be used for espionage, something the company has always denied.
A Huawei spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph: “Huawei is the most scrutinised vendor in the world and we firmly believe our unrivalled transparency in the UK means we can continue to be trusted to play a part in Britain’s gigabit upgrade.
“It’s important to focus on facts and not to speculate at this time.”
Swedish telecoms company Ericsson has said it would be capable of replacing all of the Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G network if the British government decides to ban the Chinese company.
In an interview with Sky News last week, the company’s president for Europe, Arun Bansal, said Ericsson was not lobbying for its Chinese rival to be banned – but would be capable of meeting the demand if it was.
“Ericsson is not described as a high-risk vendor,” Mr Bansal told Sky News.
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