British officials are currently in talks with telecommunication firms in Japan and South Korea about providing equipment for UK's 5G networks.
That's according to Bloomberg, which says the move is a part of a bid to find alternatives to Huawei as the country rethinks its ties with China.
A source with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that discussions with Japanese firm NEC started in May. The officials discussed plans to bring NEC into the Britain's 5G market through a trial programme, called "5G Create", which will focus on developing technical capabilities for British 5G networks.
The government also plans to invite Samsung Electronics for talks as a potential option to build 5G infrastructure in the country.
"NEC are currently involved in various 5G activities in different parts of the world but we are not able to comment on this specific project," a spokesperson for NEC told Bloomberg.
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson government gave Huawei permission 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, and the government also imposed a 35 per cent cap on supplying parts to the non-sensitive areas of 5G and high-speed fibre-based networks.
In recent months, British ministers have become far more sceptical of China over its handling of Covid 19 outbreak. Beijing has been accused of hiding the true scale of the coronavirus after first cases emerged in the country in December last year.
Conservative MPs have demanded the government in recent months to remove Huawei technology from Britain's 5G network. Tory MPs are also pushing the government to review UK's ties with Beijing.
Last month, it was reported that Boris Johnson has asked senior officials to come up with plans to reduce the involvement of Chinese firm in Britain's telecoms infrastructure to zero by 2023.
On Wednesday, US Republican Senator Tom Cotton warned that allowing China's Huawei to build 5G infrastructure in Britain could hurt military ties between the two countries.
"It may impose some limitations on our technical ability to share certain kinds of sources or method, or for instance our professionals tell us our airmen and our most advanced aircraft might be at risk in a country whose network uses Huawei," Cotton told the BBC.
The Republican senator also said that using Huawei equipment in 5G networks would be like allowing Russia to build submarines for western nations during the cold war.
Cotton described Huawei as threat to UK's national security and said he would be happy if Britain removes Huawei from its networks before 2023.
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