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Vodafone to remove Huawei equipment from network cores

Vodafone confirmed on Wednesday (5 February) that it plans to strip out Huawei’s equipment from the core of its European networks over the course of the next two years.

The decision comes after the UK took steps last month to limit the role the Chinese tech giant can play in supplying components for use in 5G telecoms networks.

Under the terms of the rules set out by ministers, Huawei’s equipment will be banned from military and nuclear sites, safety critical networks and network cores. The company will also be prevented from supplying more than 35 per cent of components to the periphery of networks.

Speaking on Wednesday, Vodafone’s chief executive Nick Read said that while the caps would only have a “very limited financial impact” in the UK, if similar measures were introduced in Europe, it would be “hugely disruptive” due to the ways the networks are currently set up.

He added: “We have now decided as a result of the EU toolbox and the UK government’s decision to take out Huawei from the core. This will take around five years to implement at a cost of approximately €200m [£169m].”

The UK government had faced pressure from the US to issue an outright ban on Huawei’s 5G equipment, but telecoms firms had claimed that such a move would cost the economy nearly £7bn and push back the launch of the next generation telecoms networks.

But the compromise is unlikely to appease Washington. US officials have been lobbying Downing Street for months in an attempt to lock out the firm from the rollout of the next generation communications network.

The US claims Huawei poses a national security risk, given its alleged links to Beijing and obligations under Chinese cyber security laws that force firms to cooperate with intelligence investigations. Huawei has repeatedly denied that its products pose a security risk and claims that, as a private company, it acts independently of Beijing.