Last week, British mobile phone operator EE became the first in the country to launch a high-speed 5G service. However, smartphones from controversial Chinese technology giant Huawei were left out.
EE, which is a division of British telecom giant BT, has launched 5G in six major cities including Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. The company promises that more hubs will follow.
“From today, the UK will be able to discover 5G for the first time thanks to EE,” it announced in a statement amid an official launch event on the River Thames that featured a performance from chart-topping grime music act Stormzy.
Next-generation 5G mobile networks offer almost instantaneous data transfer that will become the nervous system of Europe’s economy in strategic sectors like energy, transport, banking and health care.
Huawei left out: EE had announced last week that it would make its 5G network available to the public, but that it would not sell Huawei’s first 5G phone, the Mate 20 X for 5G. Ironically, the Chinese company still provides 5G network infrastructure equipment to EE but won’t have its top phone included.
“We are very pleased to be one of the partners supporting EE with a new era of faster and more reliable mobile connectivity over 5G in the UK,” a Huawei spokesperson told AFP on Thursday.
Rival British mobile phone giant Vodafone will launch its own 5G services on July 3rd in seven UK cities. It too has also paused the sale of the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G smartphone.
Vodafone does not use Huawei in its core UK network but uses a mixture of Ericsson and Huawei technology in its radio access network or masts. A spokesman for the firm added that there are “multiple” layers of security between the masts and the core network.
Huawei faces pushback in some Western markets over fears that Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure if allowed to develop foreign 5G networks.
The Chinese company flatly denies what it describes as “unsubstantiated claims” about posing a security threat.
Meanwhile, US internet titan Google has started to cut ties between its Android operating system and Huawei, a move that affects hundreds of millions of smartphone users. This comes on the heels of the US government announcing what amounts to a ban on selling Huawei product or transferring technology to the company.
Earlier this week, Huawei asked a US court to throw out US legislation that bars federal agencies from buying its products.
The US moves against Huawei come as Washington and Beijing are embroiled in a wider trade war.