U.K. May Face 5G Delay on Huawei Review, Culture Secretary Says

(Bloomberg) -- Britain could face a delay accessing the next generation of mobile services if it places restrictions on Chinese equipment supplier Huawei Technologies Co., according to the cabinet minister overseeing the policy.

“There’s certainly a possibility of a delay in the process of the rollout of 5G,” said Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, answering questions from a parliamentary committee on Wednesday in London. “If you want to do 5G fastest, you do it without any consideration of security. We’re not prepared to do that, so I don’t exclude the possibility there will be some delay.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has been weighing how to respond to a U.S. campaign to cut Huawei out of supplying 5G mobile networks, and is considering the results of its own six-month review into the country’s telecom supply chain. Phone carriers in Europe have advocated against any bans on Huawei, warning of costs and delays if their suppliers are limited.

A U.K. decision into the matter will be predicated on publication of the telecom supply-chain review, which will take place “not too long from now,” Wright said.

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last month that Britain is poised to toughen the rules under which Huawei operates in the country, while stopping short of an outright ban.

Wright said the primary consideration of any risks potentially posed by Huawei gear is whether the country can successfully mitigate the risks. “If the answer is no, you can assume we would proceed in the same way the Australians have and say Huawei should not be in the system,” he said. “If the answer is yes, we may come to a different conclusion.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.