The real cost of removing Huawei from the UK 5G roll-out

Huawei: the lads

Last week the government took the decision to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network. Whatever the reasons for the decision, no real attempt has been made to count the cost of this move.

We should stress that none of what follows is an argument for the inclusion of Huawei in the 5G network. There are any number of issues around that, from security to ethics. This is just a short attempt to delineate some of the potential economic consequences of the decision to first include, and then exclude, the company from the UK’s mobile infrastructure.

We think there are four principal ways of accounting for the economic impact.

  • The actual cost of removing and replacing Huawei kit from both existing and future networks.
  • The cost to the UK digital economy of an estimated three year delay in roll-out of 5G.
  • The likely cost of an out-and-out retaliatory trade war such as China is now signalling.
  • The costs to the UK’s economy of a weak position in future trade negotiations.
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