BoJo is right to run with Huawei 5G

12 March 2020
5th generation mobile network (5G) logo
5th generation mobile network (5G) logo

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson staved off his first rebellion in parliament this week. 

  • In January, the UK said it would allow China telecommunications giant Huawei to build part of the country's 5G phone network.
  • This upset the Trump administration in the United States who view Chinese access to telco infrastructure as a security risk.
  • A number of MPs from Johnson's Conservative supported the US standpoint. They tabled an amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill that would see companies considered to be "high-risk" by the security establishment removed from all networks by 2022.
  • 38 of Johnson's MPs were joined by most members of the opposition in the vote, but the amendment was comfortably shot down by 306 votes to 282.

Here's my take on why this is a good thing:

  • 5G technology is the best way to expand individual access to data at scale.
  • If Boris is to keep his election promise to roll out high speed data around the country, he needs 5G.
  • There are some other players in this field, such as Ericsson, Nokia, and (to a lesser extent) Samsung.
  • Huawei is out and away the market leader based on price/performance ratio.
  • The ability of the Chinese to hack into a UK 5G network without physical access to the hardware is overrated given that network monitoring would very quickly detect suspicious movement of data.
  • While the Trump administration raises objections, they are unable to provide American technology to rival Huawei right now.
  • In a post Brexit world which will see the Johnson government chasing a bilateral trade deal with China, the fight over using Huawei tech is not a hill worth dying on.

If you want proof as to how 5G is able to shift market dynamics, look at how quickly South Africa's Rain network has grown.

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