Saturday, 30 May 2020

BT taking its time to remove Huawei from the core

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 15 April 20

A contract with Ericsson to provide replacement core technology will not accelerate the removal process

When EE (BT) launched its 4G network back in 2012, using Huawei technology for the core, the company was likely blissfully unaware of the geopolitical storm that would unfold nearly a decade later.   By 2018, security concerns were being raised about Huawei&rsquo…

When EE (BT) launched its 4G network back in 2012, using Huawei technology for the core, the company was likely blissfully unaware of the geopolitical storm that would unfold nearly a decade later.
 
By 2018, security concerns were being raised about Huawei’s access to the core of the UK’s biggest network, and BT took the decision to remove the Chinese company’s presence from the core of the network. They gave themselves a two year deadline to strip out the kit and in 2019 were looking for new partners to replace the equipment. 
 
Now, as BT’s self-imposed deadline nears, Ericsson has announced it has been selected by the operator to replace its core equipment, as well as providing tech for the new 5G core.
 
However, BT is in no rush to remove the Huawei equipment this year.
 
“It is logistically unnecessary. To push ahead at that pace would not make a lot of sense,” said Howard Watson, BT’s chief technology officer.
 
The government imposed restrictions on Huawei back in January, banning their equipment from the core of UK networks, as well as limiting their overall presence to a 35% market share. It is these limitations, which presumably mandate a larger reduction in equipment than initially planned, that have made it impossible for BT to meet their initial 2020 deadline.
 
The government’s deadline for the removal of Huawei from the core of UK networks is 2023, so BT will likely take its time to accomplish the enormous task. 
 
Back in January, BT estimated that the limitations placed on Huawei by the UK government would cost them half a billion pounds to implement.
 
For Ericsson, picking up another contract in a market where Huawei cannot play is another major victory, and has been described as “very significant” by the company’s UK CEO, Marielle Lindgren.
 
 
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