Eurobites: UK Officials Back Limited 5G Role for Huawei – Report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Sunrise teams up with Vodafone for enterprise market; Swisscom joins FreeMove Alliance; UK holds firm on digital services tax.

  • In one of the most keenly awaited telecom decisions of the last few months, Huawei may soon get the official nod to play a limited role in the UK's rollout of 5G networks, according to a Reuters story that cites sources close to the matter. As Light Reading had anticipated, officials are reportedly advising that Huawei be allowed to provide radio equipment but not any products for the sensitive "core" of the 5G network. However, no formal decision has yet been announced by government channels. If confirmed, it would follow a sustained period of US pressure on UK authorities to ban Huawei on grounds of national security. Huawei's US critics say its products may include "backdoors" used by Chinese authorities to spy on other countries or even bring down critical infrastructure. Huawei has denied the charges, while UK operators heavily reliant on its radio equipment have argued that a comprehensive ban would hinder 5G rollout and drive up costs. The industry is watching to see how the US responds to a decision by one of its closest allies and an important member of the US-led "Five Eyes," an intelligence-sharing club of nations that also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand. (See UK PM is right: Where is Huawei alternative?)

  • Vodafone has done a deal with Switzerland's Sunrise, under the terms of which Sunrise's enterprise customers will be able to benefit from a range Vodafone Business services, including mobile connectivity, roaming and central procurement. In time, the companies plan to expand their relationship to include the delivery of fixed/mobile "converged" services to enterprises across Europe and beyond.

  • Swisscom has joined the FreeMove Alliance, the organization that aims to provide mobility services for multinationals using the networks of Deutsche Telecom, Orange, Telia Company and Telecom Italia. The move will allow Swisscom to offer its Swiss multinational customers access to the top mobile networks in Europe and globally.

    In a separate move, Swisscom TV has extended its partnership with Netflix. As from January 27, "Swisscom TV X" will feature a combination of Swisscom TV and Netflix for 50 Swiss francs (US$51) a month, offering more channels than anyone needs, 1,200 hours of recording, seven-day replay and Netflix Standard HD streaming on up to two devices simultaneously.

  • UK business minister Andrea Leadsom has told Sky News that the British government will push ahead with its introduction of a digital services tax in April, despite pressure from the Trump administration not to. Leadsom maintained that the UK would ultimately be part of a "global solution … working with partners around the world" to tackle what the UK sees as a less-than-level playing field for those businesses that are not predominantly online. Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he plans to meet up with British finance ministers on Saturday (January 25) to do some more Huawei-related arm-twisting.

  • Virgin Media has connected 1,200 new homes in the north-eastern English town of Cramlington as part of its Project Lightning network expansion program. Full FTTP technology will bring average top speeds of 516 Mbit/s to subscribers, which is nearly 13 times faster than existing local speeds, according to Ofcom figures.

  • Cloud services provider UKFast has been approved as one of the suppliers to the National Health Service's cloud solutions framework, which is intended as an aid to cloud procurement for the NHS.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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