July 14, 2020 / 4:53 PM / 24 days ago

BT says Huawei ban can be absorbed in 500 million pounds already earmarked

LONDON (Reuters) - BT (BT.L), Britain’s biggest mobile and broadband company, said it estimated that a ban on Huawei’s equipment in its 5G networks would cost it no more than the 500 million pounds ($630 million)it had earmarked to comply with a cap imposed earlier this year.

Telecom operators cannot buy any new 5G equipment from the Chinese company after the end of this year and all of its 5G gear has to be stripped out of networks by the end of 2027 under the measures announced on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Philip Jansen said the decision clearly had logistical and cost implications for BT.

“However, we believe the timescales outlined will allow us to make these changes without impacting on the coverage or resilience of our existing networks,” he said.

“It will also allow us to continue to roll out our 5G andfull fibre networks without a significant impact on the timescales we’ve previously announced.”

BT was already working to remove Huawei’s equipment from its EE mobile network to comply with a ban on its use in the most sensitive parts and a 35% cap on its overall use, at a cost of about 500 million pounds.

Jansen added that BT would continue to evaluate the details of Tuesday’s decision.

Vodafone (VOD.L), which also uses Huawei in its UK 5G network, acknowledged the government had understood the issue’s complexity and sought to minimise disruption to consumers, businesses and public services through an adequate timeframe for implementation.

“Obviously we are disappointed because this decision – as the government has highlighted today – will add delay to the roll out of 5G in the UK and will result in additional costs for the industry,” a spokesman said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Catherine Evans and Barbara Lewis

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