U.K. postpones decision on Huawei, leaves it to new government under Johnson

London skyline
A final decision on Huawei will have to be made by a new U.K. government under Boris Johnson. (Pixabay)

Britain is suffering under a lack of decision, not just in regard to Brexit, but also in regard to Huawei. In April, Britain's National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May, decided to restrict Huawei equipment from the core parts of the country’s telecom networks. But, the U.K,’s wireless providers — Three, Vodafone UK, O2 and EE — are all continuing to use and deploy Huawei equipment in less critical parts of their 5G networks.

A final decision on Huawei was supposed to have been made by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on Monday. But Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said the government is "not yet in a position" to make a determination about Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G networks, according to a report by the BBC. Wright told the House of Commons there is considerable confusion about the issue, and that the government will make a decision as soon as possible.

In the meantime May resigned, and today Boris Johnson became the U.K.'s new prime minister. Johnson's government will have to make the final decision on whether Huawei equipment can be used in 5G networks.

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RELATED: U.K.’s Theresa May will ban Huawei from 5G network cores

“Confusion” is the operable word when it comes to Huawei. In the United States, the country’s telecom operators began avoiding the Chinese company’s equipment in 2018 when different government groups began attacking Huawei based on security concerns.

Then in May 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed Huawei and 70 of its affiliates on an “Entity List,” effectively banning Huawei from buying components from U.S. companies without government approval. A few weeks later, the Commerce Department offered a 90-day reprieve from the Entity List to some companies. And, the confusion spawned by this Entity List got even worse when President Trump said in July that U.S. companies can sell high-tech equipment to Huawei.

Since then, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been trying to sort it all out. He has said that the U.S. will grant licenses to U.S. companies that sell technology to Huawei if the sales don’t put national security at risk.

RELATED: Commerce secretary confirms U.S. firms can sell to Huawei, with conditions

While the confusion in the U.S. mostly revolves around companies that supply Huawei with components, the confusion in the UK centers on whether UK telecom companies should be using Huawei equipment in their networks. Many of them continue to do so even with the risk that a new prime minister may ban the equipment. In that case, they would have to rip out Huawei equipment from their networks.
 

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