HomeInsightsGovernment consults on proposed Designated Vendor Direction and Designation Notice to restrict Huawei in UK telecoms networks

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A consultation has been launched with telecoms firms on proposed legal instruments to control the use of Huawei in UK networks.

UK telecoms providers have already begun to remove Huawei from the UK’s 5G networks following the Government’s announcement in July 2020. As the next step in this process, the Government is now required by the new Telecommunications (Security) Act 2021 to consult with industry on the proposed measures which would bring these controls on Huawei onto a legal footing.

The 2021 Act gives the Government the legal mechanism to restrict the use of high-risk vendor equipment in public networks where deemed necessary and proportionate in the interests of national security.

The proposed Designated Vendor Direction, which contains requirements that public telecoms providers would need to follow regarding use of Huawei equipment and services, is accompanied by a Designation Notice, which categorises Huawei as a high-risk vendor.

The consultation will last for four weeks and is only open to public communications providers which would receive the Direction, and Huawei, as the proposed Designated Vendor. The proposed Direction legally requires telecoms operators to:

  • remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027;
  • not install Huawei equipment in 5G networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the final direction;
  • remove all Huawei equipment from the core of telecoms networks by 28 January 2023;
  • not install sanctions-affected Huawei equipment in full fibre networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the direction; this includes any equipment for which the supply chain or manufacturing process has been altered due to the impact of US sanctions;
  • reduce the share of Huawei equipment to 35% of the full fibre and 5G access (i.e. non-core) networks by 31 July 2023, six months later than previously announced due to the difficulties providers have faced during the pandemic; and
  • remove Huawei high data rate intra-core and inter-operator transmission equipment, i.e., hardware which sends data across a network without processing it, from all networks by 31 December 2025.

In July 2020 the Government launched a technical consultation with full fibre operators regarding their use of Huawei equipment. This has resulted in the proposed Direction including a ban on the installation of sanctions-affected equipment in full fibre networks, effective from the issuing of the Designated Vendor direction for Huawei.

The Government considers that preventing any future installation of this equipment addresses the national security risk posed by Huawei in full fibre networks, but it will consider views from consultees before reaching a final decision. The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 21 March 2022. To read the Government’s press release in full and for a link to the consultation, click here.