Ripping out Huawei could cause outages and risk fibre rollout, warns BT boss

·2-min read
Philip Jansen  - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
Philip Jansen - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Ripping out Huawei from the UK's telecoms infrastructure could cause mobile outages and take 10 years to complete, the boss of BT has warned.

Philip Jansen said: "If you get into a situation where [replacing] things need to go very, very fast, then you’re into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT group mobile customers is put into question – outages would be possible."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he added that Huawei had been part of the telecoms infrastructure for about 20 years, and is a big supplier to BT and many others in the industry. Therefore the Government's decision on whether to ban it is "all about timing and balance". 

It comes as the Government looks set to halt the involvement of the Chinese tech giant in the UK's 5G network over security concerns.  

Mr Jansen also said that removing all Huawei products from the network would take about 10 years, while taking it out of the 5G infrastructure could be completed in five to seven years.

The BT chief executive also stressed that removing Huawei from the network poses security risks in the short term and it could jeopardise full fibre rollout by 2025. 

He said: "The security and safety in the short term could be put at risk [by removing Huawei] and this is really critical. If you’re not able to buy or transact with Huawei, that would mean you wouldn’t be able to get software upgrades.

"Over the next five years, we’d expect 15 to 20 big software upgrades. If you don’t have those software upgrades, you’re running gaps in critical software that could have security implications far bigger than anything we’re talking about [at present]."