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Britain bars Huawei from 5G network over security concerns

Huawei equipment is seen at a store in Beijing, China, on August 21, 2019. The change Tuesday will delay Britain's 5G rollout by a few years and increase the cost by as much as $2.5 billion. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Huawei equipment is seen at a store in Beijing, China, on August 21, 2019. The change Tuesday will delay Britain's 5G rollout by a few years and increase the cost by as much as $2.5 billion. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 14 (UPI) -- The British government on Tuesday ordered that Chinese tech giant Huawei be removed from the nation's 5G mobile network within seven years due to growing concerns about national security.

Speaking to lawmakers, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said mobile network operators in Britain will no longer be able to buy Huawei equipment at the end of 2020 and will also be required to remove existing Huawei infrastructure by 2027.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the move after discussions with cabinet members at the prime minister's office at Downing Street.

"By the time of the next election, we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks," Dowden added in a statement.

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"We have not taken this decision lightly. And I must be frank that this decision will have consequences for every constituency in the country."

The move is a major reversal for the British government, which in January gave Huawei access to next-generation mobile networks and allowed the company to be part of its future 5G mobile network.

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Tuesday, Dowden cited U.S. sanctions against Huawei imposed in May as a motivating factor for Britain's reversal.

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"These sanctions are not the first attempt by the United States to restrict Huawei's ability to supply equipment to 5G networks. They are, however, the first to have potentially severe impacts on Huawei's ability to supply new equipment in [Britain]," he said.

The United States has had a ban on Huawei equipment for years on similar national security grounds.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been lobbying for other countries to ban Chinese companies from participating in their telecommunications infrastructure, welcomed the move by Britain.

"With this decision, the U.K. joins a growing list of countries from around the world that are standing up for their national security by prohibiting the use of untrusted, high-risk vendors," Pompeo said in a statement. "We will continue to work with our British friends on fostering a secure and vibrant 5G ecosystem, which is critical to transatlantic security and prosperity."

Britain now joins the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Sweden as well as the United States, in banning the Chinese telecom from future 5G networks, Pompeo said.

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Tuesday's change will delay Britain's 5G rollout by a few years and increase the cost by as much as $2.5 billion. British officials, however, said it is worth the change due to national security concerns with the Chinese company.

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