The UK government is planning to phase out the use of Huawei technology from UK's 5G network in next three years.
According to the Financial Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked senior officials to come up with plans to cut the involvement of Chinese firm in Britain's telecoms infrastructure to zero by 2023.
The decision comes as several countries currently review their relationship with China in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some Conservative MPs have been demanding Boris Johnson remove Huawei equipment and technology from Britain's 5G network. Tory MPs are also pushing the government to review UK's relations with Beijing amid accusations that Beijing did not disclose the true scale of the coronavirus after first cases emerged in the country in December last year.
But, the government's decision to eliminate Huawei equipment from British telecom infrastructure could prove to be costly for mobile carriers, including Vodafone, EE and Three, which currently use Huawei technology in their mobile networks.
Vodafone says leaving Huawei could delay rollout of 5G in the UK.
"The cost of doing that runs into the hundreds of millions and will dramatically affect our 5G business case," said Scott Petty, Vodafone CTO.
Huawei has long been accused by the US of aiding spying efforts by the Chinese government by creating backdoors into network infrastructure.
Last May, President Trump signed an executive order blocking US firms from purchasing foreign equipment that could pose threat to the national security. Earlier this month, Trump administration extended the ban through May 2021.
The US also pressed the UK and other allies for several months to block Huawei and other Chinese telecom equipment firms on national security grounds.
So far, Boris Johnson government has allowed the Chinese firm to continue selling its 5G equipment in Britain, although with some limitations. The firm was excluded from supplying sensitive 'core' parts of 5G and gigabit-capable networks, as per government's order in January.
The government also imposed a 35 per cent cap on "high-risk vendors" which were allowed to supply parts to the non-sensitive areas of 5G and high-speed fibre-based networks.
The situation has changed completely in the past three months and under pressure from the US the government now wants the UK to be less reliant on China for goods.
"The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance," the National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement.
"Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK's networks."
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