High risk vendors in the telecommunications sector: key updates

Allen & Overy LLP

During 2020, across many of the EU Member States and in the UK, restrictions related to so-called “high risk vendors” (HRVs) in the telecommunications sector were announced. In the UK, in November 2020, the UK Government introduced the Telecommunications (Security) Bill 1 (the Bill) into the UK’s Parliament. The Bill seeks to introduce a new regulatory framework for telecommunications security in the UK. The Bill would place stronger security-related duties and responsibilities on telecoms companies and would grant Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, new enforcement powers. Additionally, and building on the UK Government’s previous announcements in relation to so-called HRVs, the Bill would give the Secretary of State powers to impose directions on “public communications providers” (Providers) 2 in relation to HRVs, which the Bill refers to as “designated vendors”. The Bill was accompanied by a roadmap 3 relating to the removal of HRVs from the UK’s telecoms network (the Roadmap) and a 5G supply chain diversification strategy 4 (the Strategy). Similar measures to the Bill have been adopted or will be adopted in the Netherlands and Belgium.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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