The UK’s first 5G mobile network excludes Huawei phones from the service
EE will turn on the network this month and the only phones initially allowed to connect to it will be running Qualcomm processors.
BT’s EE mobile network in the UK is to launch the UK’s first commercial 5G network at the end of this month, but Huawei 5G phones will not be sold by EE to operate on the network, after Google said it would not supply its version of the Android operating system to run on them.
Android is an open source OS which can still be used by Huawei, but the Google version comes with tightly integrated Google apps that EE obviously believes consumers can’t do without. Google, who originally developed Android, made its decision in response to a US law excluding Chinese companies from key US-made technologies.
That law came in as part of the US government’s war on Chinese companies it claims are “too close” to the Chinese government, and which potentially allow their government to use their digital products and services to be used for spying on users now and in the future.
Both Huawei and the Chinese government have denied the unproven accusations. EE will instead offer 5G phones and broadband modems equipped with US company Qualcomm Technologies’ (Nasdaq: QCOM) Snapdragon chips. Phones carrying those processors include devices from OnePlus, Oppo and LG.
EE will switch on its 5G network on 30 May in six cities across the UK, including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester. By the end of 2019, this is anticipated to expand to ten more cities: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
“We’re at the bleeding edge of technology with this 5G launch, and that’s exactly where we want to be – enabled by our great relationship with Qualcomm Technologies,” said Marc Allera, chief executive officer, BT’s Consumer business. “5G will be transformative for consumer and business experiences. In the years to come 5G is going to be woven into every aspect of society, making lives better, easier and safer.”
But as for Huawei phones affected by the Google Android ban, Allera told reporters at the launch event: “We’ve put the Huawei devices on pause until we’ve got a bit more information on that.”
Ironically, after the ban by Google, the US government froze the law it addressed for 90 days, to allow US companies to get their houses in order to comply with it. That temporary u-turn is also seen as putting China on-notice about the US’ tough stance going forward as trade talks continue between the two nations.
EE will still be using Huawei network switches and other kit in its network to support 5G connectivity.
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