A new task force has been appointed to drive forward ongoing work to diversify the UK’s telecoms supply chain and reduce reliance on high-risk vendors.
The Telecoms Diversification Task Force will provide independent expert advice to the government as it works towards diversification so that telecoms companies do not have to use high-risk vendors or rely on individual vendors to supply equipment in their networks. The announcement comes ahead of the government's Telecoms Diversification Strategy, which will be published later this year, to address a market failure where mobile companies are limited to using just three major suppliers in their telecoms networks. This restricts choice and poses a risk for the security and resilience of the UK’s future digital networks.
The forthcoming strategy will set out the key areas for boosting competition and innovation in the UK market by building an open, sustainable and diverse telecoms supply chain.
Both the strategy and task force follows government's decision, in informed by advice from the National Cyber Security Centre, to ban the use of new Huawei 5G equipment from the end of 2020, and remove all existing Huawei kit from 5G networks by 2027. The forthcoming Telecoms Security Bill will turn these commitments into law after being introduced this autumn.
The task force will support the development and implementation of the strategy. The full membership includes:
- Lord Ian Livingston of Parkhead (chair)
- Rosalind Singleton, Chair of UK5G Advisory Board
- Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach
- Scott Petty, CTO, Vodafone UK
- David Rogers, CEO, Copper Horse
- Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of Institute of Communication Systems, University of Surrey
- Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Professor of High Performance Networks, University of Bristol
- Dr Scott Steedman, Director of Standards, British Standards Institute
Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director of NCSC and Simon Saunders, Director of Emerging Technology at Ofcom will also be available to the task force to provide technical advice.
Targeted measures for diversification
The task force will look at creating targeted measures to attract new vendors alongside the current pool of incumbent, non-high risk suppliers. The government is consulting a range of vendors - large and small - about how it can support them to enter the market and accelerate diversification.
The task force will also look at ways to develop the capability of the UK's vibrant and innovative telecoms sector. It will explore how to incentivise research and development in the sector, including accelerating the development of open and interoperable equipment which can be used by multiple vendors, such as OpenRAN.
Alongside the Diversification Strategy, the Telecoms Security Bill will give new powers to the government to control the presence of high risk equipment vendors, and to Ofcom to drive up security standards. The Bill will enshrine in law one of the strongest regimes for telecoms security in the world.
techUK's Diversifying Telecoms event series
Our Communications Infrastructure Programme is hosting a series of events that examines the challenges and opportunities in diversifying the UK's telecoms supply chain. The opening session, as part of London Tech Week, examined the potential of Open RAN, with insight from Scott Petty, CTO, Vodafone UK, and a panel moderated by Professor Dimitra Simeonidou that included Simon Saunders, Director of Emerging Technology at Ofcom.
Our next event takes place on Tuesday 20 October, and will consider the options for the UK - focusing on:
- What are the UK Government plans for increasing the diversity of our telecoms supply base?
- What are the potential policy drivers that can be used to do so?
- The UK's ambitions to invest in and deploy Open RAN technology
techUK members can register here.