Any move by the UK government to block the use of Huawei technology in the UK's telecommunications network could have a significant impact on the rollout of new 5G services, mobile provider Vodafone has warned.
The Chinese firm is currently the subject of a review by the government over fears that its equipment could be used by the Chinese government. As a result, there have been suggestions that a formal ban could be introduced as part of the government's next Supply Chain Review.
However, other experts have argued that there is no evidence the firm poses a threat to national security, and the consequences of a ban could be far-reaching, as Huawei is one of the world's leading suppliers of 5G equipment.
Vodafone's chief technology officer Scott Petty said a ban would require his company to strip Huawei equipment out of its existing 4G network, the BBC reports, which would have a knock-on effect on his firm's development plans.
"The cost of doing that runs into the hundreds of millions and will dramatically affect our 5G business case," he said. "We would have to slow down the deployment of 5G very significantly."
Vodafone's general counsel Helen Lamprell added that such a move would have a huge impact on the government's plans for the UK to be a leader in next-generation connectivity, and asked why similar levels of scrutiny are not being applied to other infrastructure technology providers.
"If there's evidence [of a security risk], we would love to see it – but so far we haven't seen any evidence," she said. "Huawei are subject to a lot of scrutiny which we think is great, but they're not the only vendor and the same engineering issues apply everywhere."
Recently, Vodafone added 12 more cities to the list of locations in the UK that are currently set to get 5G services this year, bringing the total number of areas up to 19.