NEC Corp

UK government confirms NEC “supporting 5G in the UK”

27 October 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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NEC Corp could ease the UK’s 5G equipment woes after the government confirmed the Japanese firm would be “supporting 5G in the UK”.

The announcement, made via Twitter on Friday by the UK’s Department for International Trade, followed the official signing of a bilateral trade agreement between the UK and Japan after it was signed in principle last month.

Posted on 23 October, the Tweet read: “The UK-Japan trade agreement signed today will bring two of the world’s most technologically advanced nations & democratic allies closer together.”

The Department for International Trade has also said the UK-Japan trade agreement is a “British-shaped deal that goes substantially further than the existing EU deal.”

NEC Corp – in which NTT took a 5% stake earlier this year – has long been tipped to fill the gap created when Huawei was banned from providing 5G equipment to the UK in July.

NTT DATA UK’s Guillermo Pedraja, who is head of networks, 5G and IoT consulting, said Japanese firms were positioning themselves as “global centres of innovation in telecommunications technology”.

“The UK government’s collaboration with NEC points to a thriving future for UK-Japanese cooperation, with the recent free trade agreement ensuring that businesses from both countries remain closely aligned as they lead the world in technology and innovation.

“NTT's decision early this year to take a 5% stake in NEC was an important moment that showcased Japanese telco giants' willingness to combine forces to accelerate their capabilities in the 5G space. This strategy will likely pay dividends in the long-run, helping Japanese telco players to expand their global presence, fill the void in the West left by bans on Huawei equipment, and ultimately become the new trusted partner of Western nations wary of the security credentials of Chinese supplied equipment.”

Europe’s 5G equipment manufacturers Ericsson and Nokia, have won a series of new 5G contracts year to date. Ericsson today counts 113 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with unique operators and 65 live networks, while Nokia counts 182 commercial 5G engagements and 36 live networks as of 27 October.

In the UK, the latest chapter in the long-running Huawei saga last month saw BT recruit Nokia as its largest infrastructure and equipment provider.

“These high-profile partnerships will be integral to avoid any disruption in the rollout of 5G connectivity across the UK,” Pedraja added.

However, the news came only days after Japan told the US it would not be remove Huawei from its own networks. Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the two countries would cooperate, but that Japan would not exclude a “specific nation” from such infrastructure provision.

As Capacity reported today, Bulgaria has become the latest nation to ban Huawei and ZTE, and the US has asked Egypt to adopt its so-called Clean Network programme.