UK government defeats backbench rebellion over Huawei’s 5G role

A motion to force UK telcos to stop working with ‘high risk vendors’ by the end of 2022 has been defeated in the House of Commons
Huawei, UK, 5G, Connectivity


The UK government has successfully defeated a back bench rebellion in the House of Commons, after a group of MPs called for Chinese tech giant Huawei to be banned from the UK’s 5G network buildouts.

Earlier this year, Boris Johnson’s government gave Huawei the greenlight to continue its involvement in the UK’s telecoms sector, despite unprecedented pressure from the US to ban them.

Last night, a group of Conservative backbenchers lead by Iain Duncan-Smith proposed a bill that would force UK telcos to remove so called “high risk vendors” from their networks by the 31st December 2022. The motion was defeated and the government prevailed by a margin of 24 votes.

The UK has already placed a number of restrictions on Huawei, including banning it from the core of its 5G networks and from operating in militarily sensitive areas.

The UK has also implemented a limit on the amount of Huawei kit that can be used in the radio access network, with no single vendor being allowed more than a 35 per cent share.

Huawei has worked extensively with all four of the UK’s mobile network operators and has played a pivotal role in developing the country’s 3G and 4G networks. Huawei has also been involved in the initial 5G launches of EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 in 2019.

Given that current non-standalone 5G is built on top of existing 4G network architecture, a potential ban on Huawei on 5G would have cost the UK’s mobile network operators hundreds of millions of dollars in stripping out and retrofitting their existing network infrastructure.

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