UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) looked set to allow Huawei to continue supplying equipment to operators, due to fears a ban on the Chinese vendor would leave the country lagging in 5G, The Times reported.
Citing senior sources close to the government and security services, the newspaper reported Johnson will follow his predecessor Theresa May by allowing Huawei access to “non contentious” parts of networks. The move comes following consultation with ministers.
A formal decision by the National Security Council (NSC) is expected in November, The Times stated.
With 5G deployment in the country now underway, the UK’s operators have used the Chinese vendor’s equipment so far, but the company has been kept away from sensitive core parts of the infrastructure following a decision by the NSC in April.
Johnson said in July (when appointed Prime Minister) he wanted time to make a decision on Huawei, a move which delayed an official decision on the company’s 5G involvement.
However, it now appears Johnson will allow Huawei to continue working with operators due to fears there is no viable alternative. One of The Times‘ sources said there is no “good substitute” for some of the Chinese vendor’s technology, adding the west had “screwed up by allowing Huawei to develop a near monopoly in this area”.
However, Johnson will be mindful of not upsetting the US and President Donald Trump, which have embarked on a global campaign against Huawei citing fears the vendor uses its equipment to spy for the Chinese state.
An intelligence official told The Times the UK should be able to keep any security risk posed by Huawei at bay with its technical expertise, but the decision will have political ramifications by upsetting “our closest strategic ally, the US”.