With the UK building closer ties with Japan, Huawei’s exit from UK 5G infrastructure has left the door open for NEC

Back at the start of 2020, when the UK was still mulling how to handle the issue of Huawei participating in its upcoming 5G networks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson famously asked the international community “what are the alternatives?”


Since then, the UK initially banned Huawei from the core of its 5G network and limited its market share, before later increasing restrictions to a full phase out of Huawei equipment by 2027, but the question of who can step in to fill the void left by the Chinese vendor remains as open as ever. While the European vendor giants, Ericsson and Nokia, are the obvious choice, other contenders are beginning to emerge, including South Korea’s Samsung and a number of Japanese firms. 


Working alongside Japanese companies will soon become even more appealing for the UK, with the government signing a historic post-Brexit trade deal with Japan last week. Indeed, as part of the diplomatic trip to Japan, British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss spoke to NEC Chairman Nobuhiro Endo about 5G, leading to the tweet below suggesting NEC will help rollout 5G in the UK and look towards the creation of a  5G Open RAN Center of Excellence.



The details of such a deal are currently unavailable. 


NEC has been busy both at home and abroad in recent weeks. Just days ago, NEC announced that they were working with Analog Devices Inc to help develop 5G Massive MIMO antenna units for Rakuten, whom they already work closely with for the operator’s innovative virtualised RAN network. Similarly, last week saw them work alongside Altiostar and VodafoneZiggo to perform the first successful voice call over an open virtual RAN in the Netherlands. 

If ties with NEC and Japan continue to improve, Open RAN may begin to gain even more momentum in the UK as we enter 2021.


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