The company said that it uses Huawei’s equipment in 32% of its base stations across the UK
Telecom operator Vodafone said any move by the UK government to bar equipment made by Chinese vendor Huawei from new 5G networks would slow down the deployment of 5G technology in the country, according to published reports.
Reuters reported that Vodafone Group also said that a decision of this kind would cost it hundreds of millions of pounds.
Vodafone’s UK chief technology officer Scott Petty said that Huawei radio equipment is installed in nearly a third of the company’s 18,000 base stations in the U.K.
“If we were forced to remove Huawei from the network, we would need to go to the 32% of base stations that are currently using Huawei for radio and replace all of those with somebody else’s technology and then deploy 5G on top of that,” Petty reportedly said.
“The cost of doing that runs into the hundreds of millions and would dramatically affect our 5G business case; we would have to slow down the deployment of 5G very significantly,” he added.
Petty also said carriers should be able to use Huawei’s radio technology on its masts even if they could not use the Chinese vendor’s kit in the transport network and core network.
In January, Vodafone’s CEO Nick Read told a conference call with investors that the carrier will continue to use gear from Huawei in 5G Radio Access Network but will pause the implementation of the vendor’s equipment for 5G core networks.
“We are predominately using Huawei in radio. We are continuing to use them in radio for 5G. However, in the core, we have put them on pause,” he said.
According to recent press reports, the UK government is working to impose strict new security regulations on telecom operators to prevent them using equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei across more than 50% of their networks.
The reports said that government officials are preparing to recommend a 50% cap on the proportion of equipment that can be supplied by the Chinese vendor. This new regulation would apply across Britain’s four mobile networks for core network equipment and radio equipment, including 5G networks.
According to the reports, it is not yet clear if the government would apply these security restrictions retrospectively or if they would apply for new deployments.
Last month, the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reportedly concluded that the country has the tools to mitigate the potential risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
The conclusions by the British intelligence represented a serious blow to U.S. efforts to persuade its allies to ban the Chinese company from taking part in 5G contracts over national security allegations.
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