The government has created a taskforce to examine how best to introduce more players into the UK telecoms infrastructure market, and offset the impact of the ban on using Huawei kit in the 5G network.
Announcing the establishment of the task force, the government said it hope the unit could advise on how best to “address a market failure where mobile companies are limited to using just three major suppliers in their telecoms networks”.
The three companies in question are Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei – and, from the end of this year, networks will be banned from buying any new equipment from the latter to support the rollout of 5G connections. Huawei kit must be expunged from the UK 5G network entirely by 2027.
The task force, chaired by former BT chief executive Lord Ian Livingston, has been charged with helping government to deliver a Diversification Strategy, to be published later this year. The strategy will propose ways – such as research and development incentives – in which new entrants could be encouraged and local players could be cultivated, to prevent what would otherwise become a duopoly.
Joining Livingston will be Rosalind Singleton, chair of the UK5G Advisory Board, Openreach CEO Clive Selley, Vodafone UK chief technology officer Scott Petty, and David Rogers, chief executive of mobile security specialist Copper Horse.
Also on the task force are the British Standards Institute’s director of standards Dr Scott Steedman, and two academics: professors Rahim Tafazolli and Dimitra Simeonidou, from the universities of Surrey and Bristol, respectively.
Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre and Simon Saunders, Ofcom’s director of emerging technology, are available to offer advice to task force members.
Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: “To deliver the revolutionary benefits of 5G networks for people and businesses, we need to be confident in their security and resilience. A more diverse supply chain is essential to reducing our dependence on individual suppliers and improving telecoms security - as well as a great economic opportunity for the UK.”
He added: “Under Lord Livingston’s leadership, this task force will use industry expertise to turbo charge the delivery of our Diversification Strategy. Together we will push ahead with bold ideas to break through the barriers stopping suppliers from entering the UK and put us at the forefront of innovative new mobile technologies.”