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Huawei says UK ban threatens to move UK into digital slow lane

Huawei said Tuesday that the British government's move to ban the company's involvement in the country's 5G networks is a "disappointing decision." 

Chinese technology company Huawei said Tuesday that the British government's move to ban the company's involvement in the country's 5G networks is a "disappointing decision" which "threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide."

"This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone." said Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK in a statement.

"Instead of 'leveling up', the government is leveling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new U.S. restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK," Brewster said.

The British government announced Tuesday that buying new Huawei 5G equipment will be banned after Dec. 31, 2020 and all Huawei equipment will be removed from the country's 5G networks by the end of 2027.

"Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about U.S. trade policy and not security," said Brewster.

The British government announced in January its plans to safeguard the country's telecoms network, approving a restricted role for Huawei in helping build the country's 5G networks. Tuesday's decision marks a U-turn in Britain's policy concerning Huawei.

"We will conduct a detailed review of what today's announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain," said Brewster.

The latest decision by the British government is expected to delay the country's 5G roll-out, according to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden.

From an economic viewpoint, eliminating Huawei from Britain's 5G infrastructure market could be expected to lead to higher prices and delays in roll-out, according to a recent report released by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a research institute in Britain.

A previous study conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by Huawei also said that restricting Huawei from helping to build Britain's 5G infrastructure market would increase roll-out costs by 9 percent to 29 percent.

"Outages would be possible" if BT is forced to pull out Huawei's 5G kit too quickly, the telecoms operator's chief executive Philip Jansen told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

Depending on how big or how intrusive the work to be carried out is, users would lose their signal, "sometimes for a couple of days", Vodafone UK's Head of Networks Andrea Dona, told British lawmakers last week.

The Chinese technology company has been operating in the British market for some two decades. It employs 1,600 people in Britain and supplies telecoms network equipment to all the major mobile and broadband service providers in the country, according to Huawei.

Recently, Huawei announced that it will build a state-of-the-art center in Cambridge, Britain, which will focus on the research, development and manufacturing of optical devices and modules.

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