UK asks Japan for help with 5G as an alternative to Huawei

TOKYO – Nikkei has discovered that the British government has asked Japan for help in creating its 5G or fifth generation wireless networks.

The request came after the United Kingdom on Tuesday decided to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to networks starting later this year, as well as removing all of the company’s devices by 2027.

British officials told their Tokyo counterparts that Japanese tech companies NEC and Fujitsu can replace Huawei as suppliers and I have asked for support from the Japanese side to improve the technology and profitability of the network.

The UK aims for Japanese companies to compete with other telecommunications companies such as Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland to promote the development of low-cost products suitable for British telecommunications companies to adopt.

Washington has led a campaign to ban Huawei from networks around the world, citing national security concerns. Huawei has denied that it is a threat to the security of any country.

Shortly after the ban was announced, British government officials met Thursday with representatives of Japanese government agencies, including the Secretary of Homeland Security. as well as the National Center for Incident Preparation and Cybersecurity Strategy, to seek cooperation. The Japanese side also recognizes the need to collaborate with British companies in the development of 5G technology.

Three companies, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, control almost 80% of the global 5G base station market. NEC and Fujitsu control less than 1%. Although Ericsson and Nokia are dominant in Britain today, Japanese companies can expand their market share in the country if they can meet their quality demands and offer low-cost products.

A NEC source told Nikkei that the company is already “in talks” with the British side, while a Fujitsu source said it is looking for opportunities to sell its products in Europe.

The Japanese government has already decided to invest 70 billion yen ($ 654 million) to support companies like NEC to develop base station equipment and backbones. The funds come from the Organization for the Development of New Energy and Industrial Technologies, an independent administrative agency.

The reach of the United Kingdom occurs when Japan aims to promote the internal development of secure networks and at the same time promote network exports in cooperation with friendly countries. Whether Japanese companies can export their products to the UK will be the cornerstone of the strategy.

It is expected that 5G networks can be built with products from multiple base station manufacturers, which is why Japanese companies hope to finally expand their share of the global market.

In the past, telecommunications companies used to hire a single supplier and buy equipment exclusively from it. It was also a substantial financial burden on telecommunications companies to switch to different providers, as doing so required changes to the specifications.