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Ericsson and BT Sign Major Deal to Mitigate Huawei Phase-Out

David Paul

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5G task force BT and Ericsson

The deal comes months after the UK Government’s announcement that it would ban the Huawei equipment from UK network infrastructure.

Telecoms firm BT has signed a landmark deal with Ericsson to supply it with 5G kit after the Huawei ban.

Swedish firm Ericsson’s equipment will be supplied for BT’s 5G network in major cities across the country as the UK company continues to distance itself from Huawei.

BT’s move allows it to remove Huawei kit from its network after the ban and avoid becoming dependent on its current radio access network equipment provider, Nokia.

Over time, the telecoms giant says it expects 50% of its kit to be provided by Ericsson, as well as for its main mobile brand, EE.

Commenting on the deal, BT’s chief technology and information officer, Howard Watson, said: “In the nine months since the initial decision, we’ve signed significant new deals with two of the world’s leading equipment vendors, Nokia and Ericsson, that will enable us not only to meet our commitments to the UK Government but to continue building out our award-winning 5G network across the UK and to consolidate our leading position in mobile.

“Two deals may not sound like a lot, but the scale and complexities involved mean that getting these agreed in just nine months is a real testament to the hard work of hundreds of people across the business.”

The deal lands after the July announcement by Boris Johnson of the removal of Huawei’s equipment from Britain’s telecoms network by December 31st of this year.

Huawei is expected to be banned entirely from the British network by 2027, leaving telecoms firms needing to find replacement kit suppliers.

The ban was supposedly initiated due to pressure from the US, who imposed tougher sanctions restricting Huawei’s ability to build chips.

President Donald Trump’s administration had also been vocal of its opposition to Huawei and its potential ties to the Chinese regime, which could affect a possible trade deal between the UK and the US after Brexit.

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The removal of Huawei equipment is expected to cost billions of pounds and could delay the deployment of 5G, according to a report released by Huawei this week.

“A delay in Britain realising its full 5G potential could condemn some parts of the country to the digital slow lane for years to come,” the report stated.

Huawei has been dogged by past accusations of collusion with the Chinese state. A Parliament Defence Committee report into 5G security earlier this month revealed what MP’s say was ‘clear collusion’ between Huawei and Beijing.

The Chinese firm has repeatedly denied claims that it has deeper ties with the Chinese government, stating that they are a privately held company and that their relationship was “no different than any other private company in China”.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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