REUTERS/Toby Melville

British mobile operators will need at least five years to replace Huawei equipment

Telecommunications operators Vodafone and BT said they would need at least five years to remove Huawei equipment from their networks in the UK, and Vodafone estimates the cost of the work at several billion pounds.

REUTERS / Toby Melville

Andrea Dona, head of Vodafone UK’s network division, told a committee of British lawmakers that the operator needs to have a “reasonable timeline” of several years to implement any further restrictions for Huawei with a transition period of at least five years. In turn, BT claims that it will take at least five years, and ideally seven, to remove Huawei equipment from its network.

In January of this year, the UK provided Huawei with a limited opportunity to participate in the construction of future 5G networks, excluding it from the list of equipment providers for the network core. However, under continued pressure from the United States, the British leadership has changed the rhetoric, now arguing that the imposition of US sanctions could have a significant impact on Huawei’s ability to supply critical network equipment components.

As a result, the UK is redefining the role of Huawei in its telecommunications networks. Huawei said at a committee hearing that it is too early to quantify the impact of sanctions on its activities, and no hasty decisions should be made.

The committee of British lawmakers was also addressed by Samsung Executive Vice President Woojune Kim. He said that the company is in active commercial negotiations with European operators on the supply of network equipment and is investing its resources in 4G, 5G and 6G, rather than outdated technologies.

When asked if Samsung could provide supplies for the new 5G network in the UK, he replied: “Yes, we can certainly“.

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