BT and Vodafone seek PM’s support for buying Huawei network

Telecom operators BT and Vodafone are considering urging UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to risk the rolling out of 5G mobile networks by banning China’s Huawei, Sky News reported on Friday.
Huawei 5G base station in ChinaBritain is set to take a final decision on Huawei’s role in building new 5G networks this month.

BT CEO Philip Jansen and Vodafone CEO Nick Read are contemplating writing to Boris Johnson during the early part of next week, the report said.

The Daily Telegraph reported this week that US President Donald Trump was planning to lobby Boris Johnson directly on the issue.

The UK security services believe that any security threat from Huawei can be contained by using the company’s equipment only at the periphery of the 5G network, rather than at its core.

U.S. government officials have pushed for a ban on Huawei on security grounds, and reports said they presented new evidence on Monday about the risks of using the Chinese company’s equipment.

BT and Vodafone, Britain’s two largest telecoms companies, are considering writing to Boris Johnson to say they have seen no evidence that would justify a total ban and to urge him to make a fact-based decision.

BT and Vodafone declined to comment on the letter. Both BT and Vodafone have launched 5G network in the UK.

Vodafone, which uses Huawei’s telecom equipment in its radio network, has previously said a blanket ban on the Chinese company would costs it millions of pounds and significantly slow down the roll-out of 5G networks.

Vodafone has already paused the deployment of Huawei’s equipment in its data-heavy core networks, a year ago until Western governments give the company a full security clearance.

BT also uses Huawei’s equipment in networks, but it is not deployed in the intelligent core of its fixed-line network and it is removing Huawei from the core of its mobile network. In addition, BT has already excluded Huawei from the bidding process for its future 5G network.

Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said on Tuesday he was confident the UK government would make a decision based upon evidence, “as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations”.

“Two UK parliamentary committees concluded there is no technical reason to ban us from supplying 5G equipment and this week the head of security service MI5 said there is no reason to think the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the U.S. would be harmed if Britain continued to use Huawei technology,” Victor Zhang said.