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BT Begin Replacing UK 4G and 5G Mobile Kit from Huawei in Hull

Monday, May 17th, 2021 (7:55 am) - Score 3,168
ee 5g mobile trial base stations

The BT Group (EE) has officially started its £500m programme to remove and replace Huawei’s 4G and 5G mobile (mobile broadband) kit within their UK network, with the city of Hull in East Yorkshire being the first on a long list of 12,000 mobile masts and rooftop sites that will need to be done (they run a total of 18,000 sites).

Just to recap. Back in July 2020 the government revealed that it intended to ban “high risk vendors” from future 5G rollouts (here), which followed various US sanctions and security concerns around the role of Chinese firm Huawei in UK networks (ZTE is also banned). The ban started to come into force from 31st December 2020 (i.e. the date when operators must stop procuring new kit) and the removal of existing kit is due to be completed by the end of 2027.

At the time UK mobile operators’ warned that this decision, which also impacts existing 4G kit due to the close interdependency of such networks, could delay completion of the 5G rollout by 2-3 years and add costs of up to £2bn across all operators. All of this is less of an issue for O2 because they opted to go with Ericsson for their 5G deployment.

Since then BT has also added Ericsson as a 5G supplier (alongside Nokia) for their new network. The latest development is that the operator’s engineers have now officially started the rip-and-replace process of removing Huawei’s mobile kit, with Hull being the first city on their list. Apparently the work in Hull will be completed by July 2021 (local kit will be swapped to Nokia).

Howard Watson, BT CTO, told Bloomberg:

“We were quite keen to pick one city area and do the whole of that, and make sure that we can really check that we’re not having an adverse impact on customer service. The signs are really good for that so far.”

A total of 130 mobile sites have so far gone through this process, which leaves another 12,000 left to do. But we should point out that the Government’s decision doesn’t only impact mobile networks. Any network providers deploying Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology may face some impact too, albeit fairly limited (e.g. Openreach).

At the end of last year we reported (here) that the draft position, as expressed under the related Telecommunications (Security) Bill, imposed a cap of 35% on the use of Huawei’s 5G kit to ensure that operators make use of other suppliers (due to be introduced after 28th January 2023). The Government also said this would extend to FTTP and “other gigabit and higher capable access networks.”

We should point out that Openreach has already adopted new FTTP broadband suppliers in the shape of ADTRAN and Nokia, while CityFibre have also replaced some of Huawei’s kit on the FibreNation network that was acquired from TalkTalk.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. The numbertaker says:

    When Trump said jump, and we asked how high.

  2. a welshman says:

    a government is watching

  3. Mike says:

    Huawei refused to put back doors in for the NSA in 2014, wasn’t too difficult to see what would happen next.

  4. Anthony Goodman says:

    Do they really think a 20 year old on TikTok is going to be of interest to Chinese Spy’s. That is what the majority of traffic will be and the minority will just be people checking their emails.

    Any private work companies will have security measures in place blocking this already. A relative works at John Lewis and to even see her wage slip its like Mission Impossible level security.

    This is a waste of money. Plus by vDSL street cabinet is Hauwei? What then? Are the chinese seeing me type this message?

    1. Mike says:

      You don’t decide what you have to hide, the authorities do and a future regime may retroactively punish you for past endeavours.

  5. a welshman says:

    hope the uk gov. have secure equipment once snooping law comes in or the Chinese will be hacking them or is it one rule for us and one for them

  6. Ig Og says:

    It’s google and apple that do the most spying.

  7. Daniel says:

    Complete waste of money

    Should only be replaced if it breaks.

    No one seems that interested in google and Facebook tracking your every move.

    They know what shops you’ve been in , where you go on holiday.
    God know how much they really know that gets sold on .

  8. Yevhen says:

    I’m very surprised how many trolls are even in such nice country what UK is

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