The British Government has banned Chinese technology giant Huawei from its 5G network and will force telcos to replace all the company's existing infrastructure in a move that could cost up to 2 billion pounds ($3.6 billion).
The move comes after sustained pressure from the United States, Britain's most important intelligence partner, which has been pushing the UK to reverse Prime Minister Boris Johnson's January decision to grant Huawei a limited role in the country's 5G rollout.
Digital and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the House of Commons on Tuesday (local time) that telecommunications companies would not be able to purchase Huawei components after December 31 and would need to remove existing Huawei gear by 2027.
Mr Dowden said Britain's National Cyber Security Centre could no longer guarantee the stable supply of Huawei equipment after the US introduced fresh sanctions on the company's chip technology.
"Following US sanctions against Huawei and updated technical advice from our cyber experts, the Government has decided it is necessary to ban Huawei from our 5G networks," he told Parliament.
"No new kit is to be added from January 2021 and UK 5G networks will be Huawei free by the end of 2027.
"This decisive move provides the industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to get on with delivering 5G across the UK."
On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a meeting of the UK's National Security Council (NSC) where the final decision to ban Huawei was made.
Telcos will also be told to stop using Huawei in fixed-line fibre broadband within the next two years.
"This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run," Mr Dowden said.
"By the time of the next election, we will have implemented in law, an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks."
Mr Dowden said the decision would mean a delay to the roll-out of 5G across Britain by two to three years.
Pressure had also come from Mr Johnson's own backbench, who earlier in the year tried to pass an amendment to ban Huawei from the UK's telecommunications infrastructure, citing fears the company could pass on sensitive information to the Chinese government.
UK joins Australia and US in Huawei 5G ban
In August 2018, Australia became the first nation in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network to ban Huawei and other companies from involvement in the country's 5G network.
Other Five Eyes nations New Zealand and the US have also banned Huawei technology from its 5G networks, while Canada is yet to decide on allowing Huawei to provide equipment.
Last month, two former officials told the ABC that cyber attacks on government and industry bodies were most likely being directed by China's premier intelligence agency in retaliation for the Huawei ban.
In May, Australian security officials applauded Britain's decision to review Huawei's involvement in the 5G mobile network.
Huawei has had a foothold in the UK's telecommunications network since the early 2000s after partnering with the country's largest provider BT, and currently provides equipment for its 2G, 4G and 5G networks as well as broadband technology.
A spokesman for Huawei UK said the decision was "bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone", and that it threatens to "move Britain into the digital slow lane".
"Instead of 'levelling up', the Government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider," the spokesman said.
"We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.
"Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicised, this is about US trade policy and not security.
"We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain."