Three UK: Banning Huawei will delay our 5G rollout

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Three UK is the latest operator to voice concern that banning Huawei equipment will delay its 5G rollout.

David Dyson, CEO of Three UK, warned that such a ban would delay the rollout of 5G services by up to 18 months.

"We've already started to deploy equipment for when we launch 5G in the second half of the year," he said. "So if we had to change vendor now, we would take a big step backwards and probably cause a delay of 12 to 18 months."

The UK is under pressure from the US to ban Chinese 5G equipment citing fears it could be used for surveillance. Huawei continues to deny it poses a national security risk.

"Huawei met all of the standards that the other operators met, and we felt at the end of that process that Huawei was the right choice for our customers and for our business," Dyson said.

In previous generation networks, the UK has allowed the use of the Chinese vendor’s equipment as long as it was checked before use at the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) in Banbury.

HCSEC issues annual reports of its findings. Until its latest report, HCSEC was confident that all risks were being successfully mitigated. The most recent edition highlighted concerns about Huawei’s manufacturing process.

Vodafone UK also voiced concerns about potential delays to its 5G network earlier this month if a Huawei ban went ahead. The operator’s CTO, Scott Petty, said that such a ban would require stripping equipment from its existing 4G network.

This legacy problem of using Huawei equipment in Europe was highlighted by Randall Stephenson, the chief executive of AT&T in the US.

“If you have deployed Huawei as your 4G network, Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G — meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G,” commented Stephenson at a speech in Washington.

“When the Europeans say we got a problem — that’s their problem. They really don’t have an option to go to somebody else.”

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