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UK delays decision on Huawei role in 5G network

The government has postponed its decision on whether to allow the controversial Chinese company Huawei to play a role in building the UK’s 5G infrastructure.

The government has been considering whether to allow Huawei to participate in the next-gen mobile data network, amid continuing allegations the company uses its hardware to conduct espionage on behalf of the Chinese government, an accusation the company vehemently denies.

Now Britain will delay its decision until there’s a clearer idea of the impact of how the United States’ efforts to block Huawei from trading with US companies will play out.

Related: Huawei Android ban

Digital Minister Jeremy Wright told parliament that the issue, which many believe uses Huawei as a pawn in the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, could affect the availability of Huawei tech moving forward.

He said: “These measures could have a potential impact on the future availability and reliability of Huawei’s products, together with other market impacts, and so are relevant considerations in determining Huawei’s involvement in the network.”

Wright said it would be “wrong” to make a decision until the situation became clearer, but that the government would do so as soon as possible.

Related: 5G in the UK

Currently US companies are banned from with working with Huawei and 68 other related companies, although there is a temporary license in place to avoid short-term disruption for technology providers.

With the UK set to announce a new prime minister this week, and MPs set to take their summer recess, the issue is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. That’s unlikely to please mobile providers and UK consumers who are keen to get 5G services off the ground and in more places sooner rather than later.

Huawei’s VP Victor Zhang said (via BBC): “After 18 years of operating in the UK, we remain committed to supporting BT, EE, Vodafone and other partners build secure, reliable networks.

“The evidence shows excluding Huawei would cost the UK economy £7bn and result in more expensive 5G networks, raising prices for anyone with a mobile device.”

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