Counting the cost of the UK’s Huawei rip and replace programme

© Flickr/CC-licence/401(k)

© Flickr/CC-licence/401(k)

  • UK MNOs are going to be hobbled by US demands that the UK remove Huawei infrastructure for ‘security reasons’
  • But that cost is nothing when set beside the consequent loss a 5G delay will visit upon the UK economy for the next decade

By yielding to US pressure over Huawei, and forcing UK telcos to rip and replace Huawei kit  from their UK networks, the nation is set to lose its 5G competitive advantage and global leadership position, according to respected London telecoms research outfit, Assembly Research. 

In a new report, commissioned by Huawei, it projects that the UK economy will be short £18.2 billion if it suffers a three-year delay to its 5G rollout. A requirement to remove Huawei equipment sooner than 2027 (the current deadline) as some are urging, would mean an even greater monetary loss and would accrue extra competitive disadvantage. 

The report points out that the recent extra sanctions (see - US tightens trade restrictions on Huawei) imposed by the US government on technology exports to China, have made matters worse, since now the question of  technology supply via alternative providers has made the pursuit of its former infrastructure strategy far more difficult. 

The Assembly report extrapolates the expected impact of the government’s own estimates of a three year delay to 5G roll-out with the expectation that “should the UK not maintain global leadership in 5G, it will miss the opportunity to fully realise £173bn of incremental GDP over 10 years between 2020 and 2030. Global leadership is important so that the UK can take early advantage of the potential for 5G to create new opportunities for UK businesses at home and encourage inward investment – both of which contribute to the creation of a world-leading digital economy,” it pointed out.

Given that the US has produced no evidence of any Huawei spying it would seem reasonable to point out that, apart from Huawei itself, the UK can claim to have sustained the most damage from the US anti-China actions. You therefore have to at least wonder whether knee-capping the UK might have been part of the US plan all along.

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