British Telecom CEO Philip Jansen urged the British government on Monday not to hurriedly ban China's Huawei from the 5G network project, warning that there could be outages and even security issues if it did so.
This comes after Vodafone, one of the world's top five mobile operators, also warned the UK that it would suffer a major blow if it decided to remove Huawei equipment from its telecoms infrastructure.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to decide this week whether to impose tougher restrictions on Huawei. This came after pressure from the United States to ban Huawei from Western 5G networks.
Back in January Johnson defied US President Donald Trump and granted Huawei a limited role in the 5G network. But after it emerged that China kept secrets over the coronavirus crisis and the Hong Kong row, London changed its thinking.
"If you are to try not to have Huawei at all, ideally we would want seven years and we could probably do it in five," Jansen told BBC radio.
When he was asked about the risks if telecoms operators were told to do it in less than five years, Jansen said that it was necessary to make sure that if any change in direction does not lead to more risk in the short term.
"If we get to a situation where things need to go very, very fast, then you are into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT Group mobile customers is put into question - outages," he said, as reported by Reuters.
Some compared the situation to the Cold War antagonism of the US with the Soviet Union. America is worried that 5G dominance of China would be its milestone towards technological supremacy surpassing the US, which could also define the geopolitics of the 21st century.
The United States believes that Huawei is an agent of the Chinese Communist State and is not trustworthy.
The world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, Huawei said that the US wants to frustrate its growth as no other US company could offer the same range of technology at a competitive price as Huawei.
(With agency inputs)