Huawei restrictions could delay UK 5G roll-out by two years, report finds

News

Restricting the use of Huawei kit in the telecoms supply chain – even partially – could delay 5G’s widespread roll-out in the UK by up to two years.

The analysis, carried out by research firm Assembly and commissioned by mobile trade body Mobile UK, finds that such a scenario could cost the UK economy between £4.5 billion (€5.2 billion) and £6.8 billion (€7.9 billion) and would almost certainly scupper the government’s stated aim to be a world leader in 5G.

The numbers are based on discussions with UK operators as well as the figures projected by the government on the expected impact of 5G technology.

Under pressure

The US has been pressuring Western governments to ban Huawei equipment from their 5G deployments, accusing the Chinese vendor of spying for the Chinese state and more. Huawei strongly denies the allegations.

By restricting the use of Huawei technology, the UK would also suffer in terms of lower inward investment and lost productivity gains through stagnation of digital infrastructure, according to Mobile UK report findings.

Benefits could be lost ‘for good’

The report warns: “The importance of early 5G leadership to realise the economic benefits of the technology can’t be understated. If any restriction were to be imposed on Huawei, many of the benefits associated with 5G leadership could be lost for good, not simply delayed as a result – these include significant productivity gains that stand to benefit the UK’s global economic standing.”

It adds: "Competition in the supply chain has so far been good for technological progress and meant that the UK has benefited from cost-effective rollout and strong mobile coverage."

In the light of the ongoing controversy surrounding Huawei, the European Commission recently announced a plan to secure 5G across the European Union.

Under the plan, the 28 countries in the EU will carry out national risk assessments in the next three months. A further 15 will then act on and improve the new standards to protect critical communications infrastructure.