UK moots ‘D10’ 5G tech club that includes India to keep China at bay


Prime Minister Boris Johnson  (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

BRITAIN wants the US to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on China’s Huawei, according to news reports on Friday (29).

The “D10” club of democratic partners – including G7 countries (UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada) and Australia, South Korea and India – could create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China, The Times said.

The reported proposal comes ahead of a planned G7 summit that US President Donald Trump hopes to host next month.

Britain had allowed the Chinese global leader in 5G technology to build up to 35 per cent of the infrastructure necessary to roll out its new speedy data network.

It had labelled Huawei a “high-risk” vendor, barring it from any role in handling the sensitive “core” of the network.

The review into Huawei, launched last week by the UKs National Cyber Security Centre, followed the announcement of US sanctions to block the sale of American chips to the company.

Also, amid the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly instructed officials to draw up plans to cut Huawei out of the network by 2023.

On Friday, The Times said one of the options before the government involved channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the “D10” member states.

Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson are Europe’s only current alternative options for supplying 5G equipment such as antennas and relay masts.

“We need new entrants to the market,” a UK government source told The Times.

“That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time.”

Johnson’s decision this year to include Huawei angered Washington because it believes that the private Chinese company can either spy on Western communications or simply shut down the UK network under orders from Beijing.

But his reported plan to eventually cut Huawei out of the network could significantly complicate London’s relations with Beijing just as Johnson seeks new trade partners following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Johnson had challenged his US critics in January to come up with an alternative to Huawei if they did not want Britain to use the Chinese firm.

“We set out in January that we were seeking new entrants into the market in order to diversify, and that is something we have been speaking with our allies about including the United States,” the prime minister’s spokesman said on Friday.