Canada News Agency

Drastic change in policy concerning Huawei could harm UK's recovery: telecoms operators

An "ultra aggressive imposition of a change in policy" concerning Huawei will hamper Britain's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, an executive of telecoms operator Vodafone told British lawmakers on Thursday.

The British government announced in January its new plans to safeguard the country's telecoms network, which is widely seen as approving a restricted role for Huawei in helping build the country's 5G network.

But the government is reviewing the impact of the U.S. restrictions on Huawei and is expected to make a statement regarding the issue later this month, according to local media.

Vodafone and BT are both leading telecoms operators in Britain and use Huawei equipment in their networks. Executives from these two companies told lawmakers that removing Huawei equipment from their networks in a short period of time will be costly and might lead to mobile phone signal blackouts.

Depending on how big or how intrusive the work to be carried out is, users would lose their signal, "sometimes for a couple of days", said Vodafone UK's Head of Networks Andrea Dona.

To get to zero in a three-year period, as proposed by some politicians, would literally mean "blackouts for customers on 4G and 2G, as well as 5G, throughout the country," said Howard Watson, BT Group's chief technology and information officer.

Huawei said Thursday in a statement: "Our commitment remains to build a better connected UK by ensuring our customers – the telecoms operators – continue to have access to the best possible technology."

"We urge the government to make its critical long-term decisions based on facts and the interests of all the people in the UK," it said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that it will impose new restrictions on Huawei's acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain U.S. software and technology.

Huawei has said it "categorically opposes the amendments made by the U.S. Department of Commerce to its foreign direct product rule that target Huawei specifically."