UK mobile network Three Mobile is warning the arrival of 5G speeds in the UK could be delayed if the use of Huawei equipment is banned.
The UK government is currently deliberating whether enabling the Chinese firm to provide infrastructure would pose a national security risk. The US, Australia and New Zealand have all blocked their operators from using Huawei equipment for 5G networks.
However, with preparations well under way for the arrival of the 4G successor any decision to exile Huawei tech would precipitate a long hold up.
David Dyson, CEO of Three, told the BBC: “We’ve already started to deploy equipment for when we launch 5G in the second half of the year. So if we had to change vendor now, we would take a big step backwards and probably cause a delay of 12 to 18 months.”
Related: What is 5G?
Three said it had consulted with the government before contracting Huawei to build part of its 5G network. Dyson added: “Huawei met all of the standards that the other operators met, and we felt at the end of that process that Huawei was the right choice for our customers and for our business.”
Three’s sentiment was echoed by Vodafone earlier this month, when CTO Scott Petty said the cost of banning Huawei “runs into the hundreds of millions and will dramatically affect our 5G business case.”
He added: “We would have to slow down the deployment of 5G very significantly.”
While nothing has been proven, Huawei is under suspicion of seeking to use telephone infrastructure to help its home country spy on international rivals. Huawei says the allegations have no grounding in fact and are simply an attempt to stifle competition.
The UK government review will be completed next month.
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