Vodafone is going to strip Huawei systems out of the core of its European network, according to Financial Times. Doing so will cost €200m as the European telecoms sector moves to adapt to new limits on the use Huawei’s equipment. Financial Times reported that Vodofone Chief executive Nick Read said the process would take five years because of the complexity of removing systems critical to its network.
The Guardian reported that Nick Read said the Huawei equipment replacement program would have “very limited financial impact” on its UK operations as they were already mostly compliant with the new government measures.
In January of 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved the use of equipment made by “high-risk vendors”, but restricted access to “sensitive core” parts of the network. It is understood that “high-risk vendors” was a reference to Huawei. The UK will exclude “high-risk vendors” from all “safety critical networks” in the UK.
Huawei posted a statement on its Twitter account about the UK’s 5G decision. The statement said:
“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track. This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market.”
“We have supplies cutting-edge technology to telecoms operators in the UK for more than 15 years. We will build on this strong track record, supporting our customers as they invest in their 5G networks, boosting economic growth and helping the UK continue to compete globally.”
“We agree a diverse vendor market and fair competition are essential for network reliability and innovation, as well as ensuring consumers have access to the best possible technology.”
Also in January of 2020, the European Union unveiled security guidelines for next generation high-speed wireless networks. Their recommendations don’t specifically call for a ban on Huawei. Instead, its recommendations include blocking high-risk equipment suppliers from “critical and sensitive” parts of the network, including the core, which keeps track of data and authenticates smartphones connecting to cell towers.
That said, individual countries in the EU would be able to decide for themselves what kind of role Huawei will play in their own wireless network infrastructure.