Industry reacts to Huawei getting limited role in UK's 5G networks

28 January 2020

The UK has decided to let Chinese tech giant Huawei continue to be used in its 5G networks but with restrictions, despite pressure from the US to block the firm.

However, the company will be banned from supplying kit to "sensitive parts" of the network, known as the core. Futhermore, it will only be allowed to account for 35% of the kit in a network's periphery, which includes radio masts - and will be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites.

Here's how you, our readers, reacted...starting with Huawei.

“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track. This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market. We have supplied cutting-edge technology to telecoms operators in the UK for more than 15 years. We will build on this strong track record, supporting our customers as they invest in their 5G networks, boosting economic growth and helping the UK continue to compete globally. We agree a diverse vendor market and fair competition are essential for network reliability and innovation, as well as ensuring consumers have access to the best possible technology.” Victor Zhang, Vice-President, Huawei

"The government has struck an artful and sensible compromise. Now it's time to turn our attention to the many transformative applications for 5G technology. 5G means much more than faster speeds to and from our smartphones. The advantages in reliability and latency mean we can now look forward to a new mobile revolution. The new applications that particularly excite me include autonomous vehicles, much wider access to virtual reality and augmented reality, and smart agriculture, where we can digitise farming, bringing huge benefits in precision and efficiency." Paul Beastall, head of strategy at Cambridge Consultants and chair of the UK5G Test Beds & Trials Working Group

“The British Government’s decision to allow Huawei to partially continue to supply 5G equipment means UK operators can move forward with their plans for 5G roll-out. In my view, this news could take focus away from what should be the main focus of mobile operator boards: how well are they prepared to monetize their massive 5G investments, how do they get a suitable return on investment? Significant questions around the economics of 5G remain. 5G networks are expensive. Rapidly available consumer-led services will bring substantial subscriber numbers - but they’ll fail to generate enough revenue by themselves to justify 5G’s expense. Indeed, I would expect to see a ‘re-run’ of the 4G experience – where operators build the networks and other companies extract the real value. The commercial success of 5G is entirely dependent on business customers. Most operators around the world, and especially in Europe, are way behind putting in place the platform-based business models and partner ecosystems essential to serving businesses. They still need to complete the intellectual and technological groundwork necessary to recoup their massive investments and ensure their relevance in the 5G era. Today’s decision encourages speed to market, but robs operators of the time they need to make their businesses ‘5G-ready’.” Angus Ward, CEO of BearingPoint//Beyond, the digital platform solutions arm of BearingPoint, the global management and technology consulting firm

“The debate has highlighted the importance of 5G. It is more than just a communications technology. It will also be the primary platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) – millions, and potentially billions, of devices that are connected via 5G networks that will allow extensive remote monitoring, control and communications in real time. Security considerations relating to 5G therefore go well beyond eavesdropping on conversations and into the fundamental workings of society and economies.It also presents a significant problem for network operators and governments. Huawei has grown very rapidly in size and also in technological sophistication. It is widely viewed as having the most commercially attractive 5G products but also that it has a technological edge on its competitors. The initial impact of decisions like the UK one (which accepts Huawei involvement in networks but on a limited basis) and similar decisions in other countries will force network operators to shift alternative suppliers which may be more expensive. In the long-term, overdependence on one supplier of network equipment and technology creates huge commercial and technology risks, even discounting security concerns. How should governments and the EU respond to the challenge of ensuring that there are European or US-based alternatives to Huawei? The answer has broad implications for policy on R&D, industrial strategy, export promotion etc.” Mark Williams, managing director at BRG