Phone providers should stop installing Huawei devices in the UK’s 5G network from September, the government said.
The announcement comes ahead of a new law to be unveiled on Tuesday, barring a Chinese company from the network.
‘Complete Removal Of High-Risk Vendors’
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said he wanted to “completely remove high-risk vendors” from 5G networks.
The new deadline falls ahead of schedule, although the maintenance of old equipment will still be allowed.
Networks will now have to adjust their delivery schedules for the Huawei 5G kit depots they have built.
Earlier, BT’s EE, Vodafone and Three UK units had until 2027 to install any such equipment acquired before the end of this year – when the purchase ban was imposed.
Huawei has told the BBC he will not comment on the announcement.
Efforts to remove Huawei from the network have been ongoing for more than a year.
However, the new Communications Security Bill is the first step in enacting such a ban, and it provides details on how it will work – if passed by Parliament.
Members of Parliament will oppose the bill during a second reading of the Communities on Tuesday.
It will give the government national security powers, allowing them to give instructions to major telecommunications companies, such as BT, on how to use so-called “high-risk” vendors like Huawei, if so.
It also threatens the media with huge fines if they fail to comply with new, higher security standards. They can hold a total amount of 10% or more of £ 100,000 per day.
Mr Dowden said the “new and unprecedented power” would allow the government to “identify and block mobile devices that threaten the security of our country”.
“We are also publishing a new strategy to ensure that we no longer rely on a few mobile vendors to make our networks more efficient and secure,” he said.
The ban on imports will have to go hand in hand with measures to encourage more retailers to enter the market and replace Huawei, as well as to build new technologies that open up the market.
There have been fears that firms could keep the new stack and install it later, even though it has been banned from buying it since the end of 2020.
Under the new strategy, the government will spend the first £ 250m which will include establishing a National Telecoms Lab research center and investing in open radio technology.
“Our plans will create a wave of innovation in building our networks in the future,” said Mr Dowden.
It follows political infighting for months, in the UK and abroad, over Huawei’s security threats and allegations of his links to China.
In July, the government ordered the complete removal of the company kit from the entire 5G network by 2027, amid pressure from the US.
The UK had previously ruled that Huawei’s equipment should be removed from the critical part of the “core” network, and made only 35% of non-core systems. The deadline was 2023.
Huawei, however, has dismissed concerns from the US and its partners over its performance.
Its vice president Victor Zhang once said the decision to remove the company from the UK’s 5G network was “politically motivated and not based on a risk assessment”.