The rollout of 5G networks will be delayed if the UK government decides to ban Huawei equipment, the boss of mobile operator Three has warned.
The UK government is yet to deliver a verdict on whether Huawei equipment should be included in its 5G network, amid allegations from the US that its technology would pose a threat to the UK’s national security.
As the US government continues to pressurise allies to ditch Huawei’s 5G equipment due to alleged security risks, David Dyson, the chief executive of Three, decided to share his views on the matter.
Mr. Dyson told the BBC that the ban could delay its rollout by up to 18 months.
“We’ve already started to deploy equipment for when we launch 5G in the second half of the year,” Dyson said. “So if we had to change vendor now, we would take a big step backward and probably cause a delay of 12 to 18 months.”
Three said that it had consulted the government about security issues and was confident that its equipment would not pose a threat to its customers.
“Huawei met all of the standards that the other operators met, and we felt at the end of that process that Huawei was the right choice for our customers and for our business,” he added.
Dyson also said that a ban on Huawei kit would pose a risk to the UK’s 5G ambition.
“It is seen as an important element in terms of how the UK economy does develop over the next five to 10 years,” Dyson said. “So, I think any sense that there is a delay to the start of rolling out 5G will have implications for the broader economic environment in the UK.”
Three views were echoed by Vodafone earlier this month when CTO, Scott Petty, said the cost banning Huawei “runs into the hundreds of millions and will dramatically affect our 5G business case.”
“We would have to slow down the deployment of 5G very significantly,” he added.
Huawei, for its part, has repeatedly denied that its equipment poses a threat to national security.
Several governments from around the world have banned Huawei 5G equipment, due to security concerns, but the UK has held back from any formal ban.
The government infrastructure review is expected to be completed in April.