BT warns it will take a DECADE to remove Huawei from the UK telecoms network as Boris Johnson prepares to U-turn on decision to allow Chinese firm into 5G project
- Boris Johnson is expected to announce U-turn on Huaei’s 5G role tomorrow
- Chinese tech firm was previously approved for limited role in the new network
- BT warned that bowing to US pressure and Tory revolt could cause blackouts
BT has warned it will take at least a decade to strip Huawei technology out of the UK’s telecoms network amid a mounting row.
Boris Johnson is expected to confirm a U-turn tomorrow on allowing the Chinese firm to be part of the new 5G project.
But BT chief executive Philip Jansen said there would be ‘outages’ and possible security risks if the sector was told to bar Huawei from the upgrade.
And he suggested it would be ‘impossible’ to remove the firm’s equipment from the wider network before 2030.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland insisted national security must be put first in the policy towards China.
The US has been heaping pressure on ministers to reconsider links with Huawei amid fears over spying and reliance on China, while Beijing has threatened ‘consequences’ if the firm is shut out.
A final decision is expected tomorrow after a meeting of the National Security Council.
BT has warned it will take at least a decade to strip Huawei technology out of the UK’s telecoms network amid a mounting row
Boris Johnson is expected to confirm a U-turn tomorrow on allowing the Chinese firm to be part of the new 5G project
A recent intelligence report said the security implications were ‘severe’ and that American sanctions on the firm may make its equipment less reliable and safe.
There are also calls from dozens of Tory MPs to strip Huawei’s technology from the wider telecoms network by 2024, and cut involvement in building nuclear power plants.
There have been reports that Huawei wants the government to delay the removal of its technology from telecoms infrastructure until at least 2025, in the hope that a future government might reverse the decision.
As part of the compromise, Huawei would reportedly pledge to maintain its equipment, which is also used in the UK’s other non-5G networks.
Mr Jansen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Huawei has been in the telecoms infrastructure for about 20 years and a big supplier to BT and many others in the UK telecoms industry.
‘It is all about timing and balance. So if you want to have no Huawei in the whole of the telecoms infrastructure across the whole of the UK, I think that’s impossible to do in under 10 years.’
To remove it from the 5G network could take as long as five years, he added: ‘To not have Huawei at all, ideally we’d want seven years and we could probably do it in five.’
Mr Buckland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think what we have to do as a Government is maintain that balance – we want to race ahead and have the best form of internet connectivity that we can because it means this country is more competitive economically and it brings greater quality of life to our citizens.
‘But, at the same time, national security comes first and I know the NSC (National Security Council) and the whole of Government will be placing a huge priority on our national security.’
Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove insisted yesterday that the government should be more ‘assertive’ in its interaction with the Asian superpower.
Sir Richard said Huawei is an ‘intimate part of the Chinese state’.
‘I’ve always believed that there is a strategic security reason for not allowing the Chinese that degree of involvement in the construction of our critical infrastructure.’
He added: ‘I think the relationship between the Chinese state and Huawei is absolutely clear-cut.
‘Huawei is not a sort of ordinary international telecommunications company, it’s an intimate part of the Chinese state.
‘And if you know anything about Chinese military strategy, they talk about the fusion of civil and military capabilities.
‘There is a close linkage undoubtedly between the Chinese military capability and Huawei.’
Sir Richard Dearlove told Sky News yesterday that the government should be more ‘assertive’ in its interaction with the Asian superpower