OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Multiple news outlets, including the BBC, are reporting that the UK is requiring all of its country’s 5G carriers to take out the Huawei technology kits from their networks, citing “security concerns.”
This is a big deal as the Chinese company is rumored to be bought and paid for by the Chinese government. The way that China handled the pandemic in allowing this to spread to the world is the reason many countries took a second look at national supply chains. Most countries are understanding the idea that essential supply chains should be kept in house, and telecoms is one of our most important supply chains.
The decision comes on the heels of the US sanctions on China and Huawei’s ability to create their own chips for the 5G technology. The UK decided that if the company had to outsource its microchip component, there is no way to guarantee the safety of its product. The Huawei 5G kit must be removed from all software by 2027. This will not affect the Huawei technology already in place for the 2G, 3G, and 4G kits.
The UK government said that they didn’t make this decision lightly. This will cost the UK taxpayers and technology companies $2billion to restructure. The Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, told the House of Commons that it was a hard decision but a necessary one to ensure the safety of their telecoms industry. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” he said.
Senator Tom Cotton has been an outspoken opponent to the company while they attempt to spread their 5G network to the US. Sen. Cotton’s statement reads: “The UK government’s decision is a step in the right direction, imposing limits on further Chinese spying on British communications. I urge London to remove completely the risk that Huawei 5G equipment poses to the privacy and security of its people.”
Now that the UK has finally agreed to block Huawei’s 5G equipment, all of the “Five Eye” members will exclude the Chinese 5G companies from their telecom networks. Five Eye is a group of countries that share intelligence- Britain, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.
This is a big win for the Trump Administration’s harsh stance on China. We understand that they are our top security threat, and this is a big blow to their international pull. We will wait and see what Germany’s decision is, but we have already seen countries like Italy, Canada, Denmark, Singapore, Poland, Estonia, and the Czech Republic snubbed Chinese 5G companies.
The 5G company said that this was “Bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone.” The company claims that this will cause Britain to move into the “digital slow lane” and increase the cost of having a mobile phone.
In the short term, it is likely that this will increase phone plans, and during a pandemic, this couldn’t have been an easy decision for their country. Siding with security over financial gain was the way to go in this scenario. I am happy that the UK took its telecom security seriously.