The UK government held talks with NEC about supplying 5G equipment for mobile networks, as part of a wider push to reduce the nation’s reliance on Chinese technology, Bloomberg reported.
NEC reportedly spoke to UK officials last month, with Samsung Electronics also being considered, Bloomberg wrote, citing a source.
The talks with NEC centered on introducing the Japanese company’s technology into the UK 5G market, which could commence with a trial programme dubbed 5G Create.
Samsung, which does not currently have a 5G infrastructure presence in the UK, will be invited for talks “soon”, added the source.
The UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been handed a £200 million kitty to work on 5G trial programmes to develop mobile infrastructure.
The UK’s move to diversify its suppliers comes as it appears to have shifted its position on Huawei, five months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson cleared the Chinese vendor to supply a limited amount of 5G gear in non-sensitive parts of networks.
However, the decision led to opposition within his own party, as well as from the US, which banned the vendor from its networks on security grounds.
It also recently moved to cut off Huawei’s access to components produced overseas using domestic software and technology.
The UK government last month revealed it was reviewing Huawei’s position in light of the tightened US sanctions.
Bloomberg said the government is looking at ways to phase out Huawei in UK networks by 2023, while also exploring a range of alternative suppliers to diversify its supply chain.
In the last week, the UK government and the US Republican Senator Tom Cotton have raised the idea of establishing a coalition with allied nations to develop 5G equipment as an alternative to Chinese technology.
Huawei hit back at the fresh scrutiny, stating there was no evidence it poses a threat to security, while adding it welcomes competition in the market.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back