EE to switch on 5G network this month but sale of Huawei devices ‘paused'

The move comes amid ongoing concerns over the Chinese phone-maker.

EE has left Huawei out of its line-up of 5G smartphones, as the telecoms firm announced it will switch on the UK’s first 5G network on May 30.

EE chief executive Marc Allera said it had chosen to “pause” the sale of Huawei 5G phones amid ongoing tensions between the US and the Chinese company.

He said EE will not restart Huawei sales “until we get the information and confidence and the long-term security that our customers – when they buy those devices – are going to be supported for the
lifetime that they’ve got the device with us”.

The BT-owned telecoms giant said it will be the first operator in the UK to launch the high-speed mobile network, which is expected to offer internet speeds several times that of current generation 4G.

The omission of Huawei comes after Google confirmed compliance with a US government order which forces American companies to stop trading with the Chinese firm.

The block means Google will stop supplying its Android operating system – which powers Huawei phones – to the company’s new devices, however it will continue to support phones already on sale.

EE said its 5G network will initially launch in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, with more to follow before the end of the year and into 2020.

It said it plans to reach 1,500 sites by the end of 2019, including the “busiest parts” of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

EE confirmed a number of 5G-ready smartphones would be available on its new network, including devices from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, HTC and Oppo.

The firm also said its new 5G mobile plans will be available to pre-order from Wednesday, ahead of the launch next week.

EE announced earlier this year that it would test its 5G mobile network during Glastonbury as part of its trials of the technology.

Huawei devices
EE has decided to ‘pause’ the sale of Huawei devices on its new 5G network (PA)

It said it will install five temporary masts across the Worthy Farm site, which will enable festival-goers to connect to 2G, 3G, 4G and new 5G networks.

Mr Allera said the network roll-out will help “keep the UK at the forefront of digital technology”.

Fellow mobile operator Vodafone has confirmed it will launch 5G across seven cities in the UK on July 3, with another 12 cities to follow by the end of the year.

EE also confirmed it currently uses Huawei equipment in its network infrastructure but is in the process of phasing it out from its core network.

Mr Allera said the company has “worked for decades with government” and “at the moment we have no instructions to change our plans”, amid security fears around the use of Huawei in 5G networks.

The Government is yet to announce its decision on whether the Chinese firm should be allowed as part of telecoms infrastructure following an official review.

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