The UK government has mandated all UK operators to remove Huawei equipment from the core of their networks by the end of this year
Customers of UK mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Sky Mobile have reportedly suffered from signal outages, seemingly leaving some without mobile internet access and others without any signal at all.
According to anonymous sources speaking to The Financial Times, the outages are linked to the removal of Huawei equipment from the core of Sky’s network, a process mandated by the government to be completed this year.
The outages seemingly occurred in May and June this year.
Back in 2020, the UK government made the decision to ban Huawei equipment from the country’s mobile networks, following in the footsteps of the US in arguing that the Chinese equipment provider represented a risk to national security.
The decision was initially met by a level of incredulity from the UK’s mobile network operators, who said that removing all of the equipment and replacing it would cause significant disruption, costing them millions of pounds and potentially slowing down their rollout of 5G infrastructure.
Indeed, BT initially said complying with the government’s orders could cost the operator up to £500 million over five years, though they later reduced this figure due to the government extending the deadline to remove the equipment.
After numerous revisions, last year the government finally issued the operators with a formal notice that they must remove Huawei technology from the entirety of their networks by the end of 2027 and from the more vulnerable core of their networks by the end of 2023.
Sky Mobile, as an MVNO, provides mobile services over O2’s infrastructure, but also use their own networking equipment.
“Sky is fully complying with government requirements on our mobile network, whilst making every effort to ensure we limit any potential impact on customers,” said the company in a statement to the FT.
Sky, of course, is not the only UK operator still removing Huawei equipment from its network. BT (EE) notably began the process back in 2021, with Vodafone more recently suggesting that at least some of its removed Huawei equipment would be replaced with Open RAN alternatives.