The decoupling of China's telecoms giant Huawei from the wireless networks of English-speaking countries continued this week, as the UK's largest mobile provider chose to ban the use of the Chinese firm's equipment in its mobile operations.
BT said it has been in the process of removing Huawei equipment from instrumental parts of its 3G and 4G mobile networks since 2016.
Just days ago, New Zealand national security minister said local carrier Spark's use of the Chinese vendor's kit in its 5G rollout "poses risk", but said that didn't necessarily mean a ban, as Spark and Huawei could work together to allay the spooks' national security concerns. Already governments in the US, New Zealand and Australia have blocked Huawei devices from deployment in 5G networks, and it looks like BT, prompted by MI6 concerns, has chose to follow suit.
Neither BT nor Huawei have commented on the matter so far, but we expect the Chinese company to react, as it usually does before appealing or trying to revert such decisions.
"We're applying these same principles to our current RFP (request for proposal) for 5G core infrastructure".
"Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner".
Huawei-built phone masts and peripheral things like that can stay, but BT has a long-standing commitment in place to not use equipment from the supplier at the very core of its network, due to the unspecified potential security risks of handing an overseas company the keys to your whole network.
Huawei has always denied that it has any improper links to the Chinese government.
"Since the beginning of this partnership, BT has operated on a principle of different vendors for different network layers".
Three and Huawei have been working on pre-commercial tests this year, and said they will continue testing the service ahead of the public launch in dense urban areas and train stations in 2019. This agreement remains in place today.
"This is a normal and expected activity, which we understand and fully support", it said in a statement. Thus it would seem unrelated to the security concerns about Huawei hardware.
Meng Wanzhou, one of the vice-chairs on the Chinese technology company's board and the daughter of the company founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained on December 1.
The Wall Street Journal in November reported that the USA government was trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from Huawei.