The UK government has extended the Huawei removal deadline from January to December 2023, giving telecoms an extra year to remove equipment from their 5G mobile networks.

All Huawei equipment must be removed from their network “cores”, which includes telephone exchanges and phone mast sites, as this is where some of the most sensitive data is processed.

As well as this, the deadline for telecoms to reduce Huawei equipment levels down to 35% in non-core networks has been delayed until October 31, 2023 – three months later than the original July deadline.

UK telecoms have until the end of 2027 to completely remove Huawei from its networks. The order was enshrined in law by the UK government last year with the Telecoms Security Act (TSA).

Telecoms were banned from buying new Huawei equipment from December 31, 2020.

“We must have confidence in the security of our phone and internet networks which underpin so much about our economy and everyday lives,” digital secretary Michelle Donelan said in a government statement. “Thanks to this government’s tough new laws we can drive up the security of telecoms infrastructure and control the use of high-risk equipment.”

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Ofcom will monitor and enforce TSA regulations and has powers to conduct inspections of telecom premises and systems. If telecoms fail to comply, Ofcom can issue fines up to 10% of the telecoms’ turnover or, for continuing contraventions, it can be £100,000 a day.

Alan Calder, CEO of IT service management company GRC International Group, tells Verdict that neither the UK nor US should have let Huawei into their critical national infrastructure.

“There is absolutely no hard evidence that Huawei is completely independent of the Chinese government, and the danger of allowing a strategic adversary into national communications infrastructure should be self-evident,” Calder says.

“The fact that the UK and US have failed to match the pace of innovation is also a concern, but both countries should be accelerating the removal from their systems of Huawei components, not slowing it.”

It follows the National Cyber Security Centre’s emergency review of Huawei shortly after the US imposed sanctions on the Chinese tech giant, cutting it off from semiconductor supplies, CNBC reported.

The UK government has also ordered that no Huawei equipment affected by US sanctions within full fibre networks can be installed.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.