BT to bin Huawei hardware from 4G networks and bar it from 5G bids

clock • 2 min read

EE to be brought into line with BT policy to only use Huawei at the edge of its telecoms infrastructure

BT is to remove Huawei networking equipment from the core 4G network of its EE mobile subsidiary, and will also bar the Chinese company from bidding for core 5G contracts.

The policy will bring EE into line with internal policy, established since 2006, when Huawei trumped Marconi to win key contracts for BT's 21st Century Network project.

However, BT will continue to buy and use Huawei kit on the edge of its networks, such as equipment on masts.

The claims were made in a report in the Financial Times, and confirmed today to Computing.

"In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006," a BT spokesperson confirmed to Computing.

They continued: "We're applying these same principles to our current RFP [request for proposal] for 5G core infrastructure. As a result, Huawei has not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner."

The news comes after Huawei, along with ZTE, were effectively barred from bidding for 5G contracts in Australia and New Zealand, while Germany and Japan are mulling similar bans.

The moves come after China passed wide-ranging laws obliging citizens and Chinese companies to cooperate with the security services in any capacity. At the same time, the US government has strongly pressured allies to impose bans on Chinese networking hardware in national networks on security grounds.

Furthermore, the company has been subject to critical reports from the UK-based Oversight Board of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre. A forthcoming report is expected to be even more critical

For its part, Huawei has accused the US government of orchestrating action intended to inhibit the company's growth. 

Huawei is the world's biggest supplier of mobile network infrastructure, ahead of Ericsson and Nokia, while ZTE has been overtaken by Samsung after it was hit with a US Department of Commerce embargo over claims it reneged on a deal struck in 2017 over busting sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

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