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Removing Huawei from 5G networks is going to cost Vodafone £169m

Companies are scrambling to replace Huawei-built cores after 5G guidelines were issued by the UK government and the European Commission.

Vodafone is the latest company to outline how these new rules will affect its current operation. More specifically, how it will affect its pockets.

Related: Huawei shut out of “sensitive parts” of UK network

In a recent press call, Chief Executive Nick Read said “We have now decided as a result of the EU toolbox and the UK government’s decision to take out Huawei from the core. This will take around five years to implement at a cost of approximately 200 million euros.” Ouch.

BT, which purchased EE back in 2015, has also recently bemoaned the cost of 5G replacement. According to its latest estimates, replacing all the current Huawei cores will cost a whopping £500 million.

When we asked Vodafone about 5G networks in the UK previously, the company said: “We do not have any Huawei equipment in our core mobile network.” Judging by the company’s cost estimates for core replacements, this isn’t the case for the rest of its structures in Europe.

Related: Everything we know about Huawei’s next foldable phone

Huawei isn’t outright banned from 5G provision in the latest guidelines issued by the EC and the UK, but its role has been restricted.

In the UK, the government has said that the company can’t provide the core parts in any network – that’s the sensitive, intelligent part of the structure – and that it will be limited to a 35% market share in 5G provision.

This means that Huawei can provide things like the antennae and masts in networks, but not the servers in the data centres that handle sensitive customer information.

What’s not clear at this stage is if the government’s decisions will prevent Huawei handsets from being stocked by UK companies or if contract prices will rise to cover the shortfall. We’ve reached out to the major network providers for comment.

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