Huawei technology must be removed from the UK’s 5G networks by the end of 2027 under legal documents submitted to broadband and telecoms operators today.
The document – known as targeted customer direction – has been sent to 35 UK mobile phone network operators. The government’s previous position was to remove the Huawei package from UK 5G networks on a legal basis.
The ban on Huawei in 5G follows the recommendations of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) leading the world that it is impossible to control the security of the company’s products – such as equipment used in telecommunications and telecommunications sectors – due to the impact of US sanctions on its supply chain. The sanctions, imposed by the US government in 2020, will prevent Huawei from accessing the US semiconductor technology it once relied on.
Huawei has released a special document – a brand announcement – that distinguishes the company as a high-risk customer for network equipment and 5G services. The nomination notice outlines all the reasons why the government considers Huawei a national security risk, including the impact of the sanctions.
The directive sets out controls on operators’ use of Huawei, after discussions with Huawei and mobile operators, including:
- a permanent ban on the introduction of new Huawei devices to 5G networks;
- a requirement to remove Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027;
- a requirement to remove Huawei equipment from the network core by 31 December 2023;
- a requirement to limit Huawei to 35 percent of the total fiber access network by 31 October 2023;
- a requirement to remove Huawei equipment from areas critical to national security by January 28, 2023; a
- a requirement not to install Huawei equipment affected by the US sanctions in all fiber networks.
These decisions have been reached following a technical security analysis from the National Cyber Security Center that takes into account our unique national circumstances and the nature of the risks from US sanctions against the UK. The decisions do not delay the digital infrastructure of the government to publish the objectives.
Taking into account the communication responses, the key deadline to get all Huawei devices in the UK’s 5G network by 2027 will remain, as will eight other deadlines to guide managers to meet the 2027 deadline.
For a few operators, the two deadlines for the priority and 35 percent of the entire fiber access network led to network failure and inconvenience to customers, due to the delay of the problem due to the epidemics and global chain issues.
Taking into account the comments raised by the industry in the communication, the government has set deadlines that balance the need to quickly remove Huawei and avoid uncertainty in in networks. The UK’s international cyber security experts at the NCSC have agreed that this is a fair balance.
Providers must meet the first dates for the removal of Huawei from the network cores and close Huawei to 35 percent in the access network (January and July 2023) wherever possible, and expect the government and most of them do.
Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said:
“We have to rely on the security of our mobile phones and internet connections that really support our economy and our daily lives.
“This government’s strong new legislation will allow us to strengthen the security of our telecommunications infrastructure and control high-risk devices.
“Today I am using these powers and making a legal decision for Huawei to be removed from 5G networks by 2027.”
NCSC Technical Director Dr Ian Levy said:
“Society relies heavily on telecommunications and NCSC, government and industry partners are working closely to ensure these connections are secure and sustainable for the long term.
“The Mobile Security Act ensures that we can be confident in the core of the everyday services we rely on, and the regulatory requirements contained in this Consumer Advisory are an important part of the security journey.”
The decision comes as the government publishes its response to a consultation on a proposed ban earlier this year with Huawei and other telecommunications companies under the terms of the Communications (Security) Act 2021 .
The Act came into force in November last year and gives the government new powers to regulate the presence of high-risk customers on the UK’s public telephone networks where necessary for national security.
Separately, last month the government introduced new security rules for broadband and mobile companies to better protect UK networks from cyber attacks under the Communications (Security) Act.
The new laws and regulations are among the strongest in the world and provide stronger protections for the UK against cyber threats that could disrupt networks or steal sensitive data.
Ofcom will inspect, monitor and enforce the new rules and code and will have the power to inspect the facilities and systems of telecommunications companies to ensure they meet their obligations. If companies fail to meet their obligations, the regulator can impose fines of up to 10 per cent of turnover or, in the event of continued breach, £100,000 per day.
Notes to editors
In 2020 the NCSC published updated guidelines for Huawei. He has also published other articles:
- A summary of the May 2020 US NCSC analysis of Huawei
- Blog: ‘Something different about mobile phones in the UK’
- Explainer: Why are the NCSC guidelines different for the use of Huawei technology?
- Explainer: What 5G is and how it will affect you