The UK has become over-reliant on a single foreign supplier for the development of the UK’s 5G network and found itself 'stuck between a rock and a hard place' when the situation turned political.
That was the reaction from Swindon-based BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, to the news that Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is to be stripped out of Britain’s 5G phone networks by 2027.
The UK has found itself in the middle of a geopolitical row between China and the US.
Huawei had been asked to supply 35 percent of the UK's 5G infrastructure. But the Trump administration has been putting pressure on the UK, suggesting that Chinese technology in the 5G and fibre broadband infrastructure posed a national security risk.
Huawei and China continue to deny that the infrastructure could be used for spying.
Reacting to yesterday's (July 14) announcement by UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden, Dr Bill Mitchell, director of policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: "We’ve become over-reliant on a single foreign supplier for critical infrastructure, which left us stuck between a rock and a hard place when the situation turned political.
"We need an informed debate about the merits of developing our own capability and how we go about that or ensuring in future there is a diverse supply chain that is resilient to geopolitical tensions.
"We also now have to be ruthlessly focused on accelerating the vitally important digitisation of the economy and our public services to make sure the UK recovers from Covid-19 as fast as possible.
"That needs a clear vision of how the UK will build 5G capability to underpin digital transformation without Huawei and without damaging national growth.”
The institute joined industry experts in warning that removing Huawei infrastructure could take up to ten years – disrupting the roll-out of 5G and faster broadband.
"If Huawei equipment is removed from the entire supporting infrastructure that will mean rebuilding datacentres and upgrading the fibre broadband networks right out to the green cabinets in our streets – all of which would cause massive disruption," it warned.