Small suppliers must be part of 5G network after Huawei, ministers told

Smaller telecoms suppliers must form a key plank of the UK’s 5G mobile phone network once equipment from Huawei is removed, ministers will be told. 

A taskforce headed by Lord Livingston, the former BT boss, will recommend that smaller equipment manufacturers make up a quarter of the equipment used in 5G networks. 

A report by the panel will call for Britain and its Western allies to join forces to forge new standards for mobile technology in response to China’s market-leading position, the Financial Times reported. 

It will also recommend that ministers encourage one or two large vendors to compete with Ericsson and Nokia, the two main challengers to Huawei that dominate the market. 

UK mobile networks are poised to spend up to £2bn ripping out Huawei kit after Boris Johnson followed America’s lead and blacklisted the company over spying fears.

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, set up the Telecoms Diversification Task Force last year to ensure Britain was confident of the companies building its 5G networks.

The panel is chaired by Lord Livingston and features Openreach chief executive Clive Selley, and Scott Petty, Vodafone UK’s technology chief. 

The Telegraph understands the taskforce will also push for the rural testing of OpenRan,  a technology standard that allows more companies to supply equipment to mobile networks.

It will encourage the Government to join forces with the regulator Ofcom to set up testing sites in rural areas that would remove the barriers for developing OpenRan more quickly.

The taskforce will also press for a greater duty to be placed on Ofcom to ensure network diversification is treated with the same importance as regulating competition.

It comes as O2 owner Telefonica, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Orange signed an agreement earlier this year to develop OpenRan as they upgrade their networks to 5G.