Many constituents have emailed me about Huawei, and I know has been something constituents in Mid-Sussex have been particularly concerned about and I have been corresponding further with my colleagues on this pressing issue over the preceding months. I am pleased we now have some clarity around this matter going forward. I am keen to update you following the Government’s announcement on Huawei and my thoughts.
The Government’s Telecoms Supply Chain Review, set out plans to implement one of the toughest regimes in the world for our telecoms security. It proposed that all operators would be required by law to raise security standards and that the Government be given new powers to allow it to respond as technology and risks change.
A critical aspect of this was addressing High Risk Vendors. In January, we set out to Parliament our conclusions on how we would define and restrict high risk vendors, keeping them outside the network’s core and away from critical infrastructure and sites. We were clear from the start that Huawei, was considered a High Risk Vendor and that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) would review and update its advice guidance on them as necessary.
It is essential our digital networks are both secure and fully resilient, which is why this Government and the NCSC have undertaken comprehensive reviews of the supply arrangements in our 5G and full fibre networks. I know constituents in Mid-Sussex will be pleased this decision has now been taken with national security being the primary consideration.
This decision was taken following a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), which was chaired by the Prime Minister. Technical experts at the NCSC reviewed the consequences of the new US sanctions, concluding the company will need to do a major reconfiguration of its supply chain, as it will no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies and there are no alternatives which we have sufficient confidence in. The NCSC also found the new restrictions make it impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future.
As a result, my ministerial colleagues agreed UK operators should stop the purchase of Huawei equipment affected by the sanctions. As I said, there will now be a ban on the purchase of new Huawei kit for 5G from next year and it will be completely removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027. This decision has taken into account our own, specific national circumstances and how the risks from these sanctions are manifested in the UK.
My colleague, the Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden MP outlined the importance of having “confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure 5G is built upon” and that “no new kit is to be added from January 2021, and UK 5G networks will be Huawei free by the end of 2027. This decisive move provides the industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to get on with delivering 5G across the UK.”
Today’s decisions will substantially change what is in the Telecoms Security Bill, which we had proposed to bring back before the summer. The Government will now introduce the Bill to Parliament in the Autumn. It is in all our interests for the legislation to be introduced and passed as soon as possible so that we can put our telecoms security advice on a secure statutory footing.
This Government is committed to ensuring the UK has world-class gigabit connectivity, using both 5G and full fibre networks, securing nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband by 2025, with £5 billion of new public dunging already committed to removing barriers of fast deployment.