UK telecoms giant EE says to launch 5G without Huawei

22 May 2019 / 19:51 H.

LONDON: British telecoms giant EE will this month become the first operator in the country to launch a 5G network but will do so without Huawei technology as originally planned, it said on Wednesday.

EE had announced earlier that it would bring Huawei’s first 5G phone, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, to Britain, but the Chinese giant’s involvement in the UK’s telecoms industry has become politically controversial.

EE chief executive Marc Allera said that the company had “paused” the launch of Huawei’s 5G phones “until we get the information and confidence and the long-term security that our customers ... are going to be supported.

Google said this week that it was beginning to cut ties between its Android operating system and handset maker Huawei, affecting hundreds of millions of smartphone users.

The decision comes in the midst of a trade war between United States and China.

BT-owned EE on Wednesday said it would begin the rollout of the new, high-speed 5G mobile network on May 30, initially in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester.

It said it planned to reach 1,500 sites by the end of 2019 with expansion into the cities of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Allera said the launch would help “keep the UK at the forefront of digital technology”.

The issue has been the source of heated controversy ever since a leak from Britain’s National Security Council (NSC) last month suggested the government was planning a limited role for Huawei in its 5G network.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Britain during a visit to London that it risked undermining the historic allies’ intelligence sharing.

The US has banned government agencies from buying equipment from the Chinese firm over fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted no decision had been taken, adding that Britain would “never take a decision that compromised our ability to share intelligence” with its close allies.

Pompeo urged Britain to be “vigilant and vocal against a host of Chinese activities”, adding its government can demand access to data flowing through Huawei’s systems “as a matter of Chinese law”.

British Prime Minister Theresa sacked Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this month following a probe into the leak.

May said in a letter to Williamson that the investigation “provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure” from the April 23 meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), although he “strenuously denied” responsibility. — AFP

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