Huawei expects to deliver 5G hardware unaffected by the White House sanctions in the next five years, bypassing the expected completion of an emergency review on Tuesday next week.
The company has 500,000 pieces of equipment in stock, but fears that a larger ban on its equipment will be exposed to reassure conservative rebel MPs that the Chinese supplier poses a national security risk.
Downing Street announced on Friday that it was “very likely”
The U.S. ban prevents Huawei from using American microchips or chips developed with American software. The NCSC is expected to conclude that the Huawei kit is no longer safe because it must be based on untested chips.
The Chinese company said it could divert 20,000 of its existing reserve for use in the UK, but it is unclear whether this would make sense. “We can help, but why should we lean when we get screwed,” said an insider.
Any material concession to Huawei would upset the rebel tories. They want Dowden to ban the new Huawei kit from the end of this year and insist that the existing kit be torn out by 2023 or shortly after. Leaks have suggested that the government would consider working towards a 2029 date.
“If Huawei believes a treasure store with another five years of its kit installed can go through parliament, they are wildly wrong,” said a source near the rebel group.
BT and Vodafone warned this week that pulling Huawei out could result in signal dropouts by 2023. They also said that the costs for the two companies would reach several billion pounds and could be passed on to consumers. O2, the other leading cell phone group, doesn’t use many Huawei devices.
While the scope of the review is technical, the series has become increasingly geopolitical. Earlier this week, Huawei’s UK chairman, Lord Browne, former BP general manager, said the company had “become a soccer ball between the United States and China.”
Donald Trump’s White House has pushed for Britain to abandon Huawei, which has been supplying phone equipment to BT and Vodafone since the middle of the last decade and is the market leader in 5G.
Huawei says it is a private company that is independent of the Chinese state. The British spy agencies have stated that their equipment has no hidden back doors, also because they were able to monitor their software at a dedicated evaluation center in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
In January, Boris Johnson announced that Huawei could be limited to 35% of 5G and only supply non-core parts of the network.
Dowden previously announced that if he announced a policy change next week, he would postpone the planned telecommunications bill until after the summer break. This has led to speculation that the government intends to postpone voting on its plans until after the November US election. Downing Street rejected this claim.
Labor accused the government of torturing the decision. Shadow culture and digital secretary Jo Stevens said: “The Tories have thought about it for years and have fluctuated from check to check without any specific measures. In the meantime, they haven’t invested in native alternatives. “