5G: How do Brits feel about BT and Nokia?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
October 02, 2020, 11:22 AM UTC

Brits are still very distrustful of Chinese telecoms but are more accepting of European companies

The latest YouGov research into the future of the UK 5G network reveals what Brits think of BT and Nokia, who have announced a partnership to phase out Huawei kit in the UK’s 5G network.

When asked which firms they would be happy to see involved in the establishment of the network, BT (66%), EE (63%) and Vodafone (61%) were most favourably viewed by Brits.

Just under half (46%) of adults are happy for Nokia to be involved. The Finnish telecoms giant will benefit greatly from the ban on Huawei tech, and are set to become the largest equipment supplier to BT following the deal which will also see the company replace Huawei in BT’s 2G and 4G networks.

At the other end of the scale remain firmly distrustful of all Chinese telecoms companies, and that it’s not just Huawei which Brits want to see excluded from infrastructure projects.

Chinese companies were ranked the lowest of all YouGov asked about. Just one in eleven (9%) Brits would be happy for Huawei to be involved, and Chinese brands Lenovo (8%), Xiaomi (7%), Tencent (6%), and ZTE (6%) made up the bottom five in our results.

This low level of trust has remained broadly the same since June 2019, when 10% of consumers said they would happy to have Huawei involved in the 5G network, and 9% happy for Lenovo to be involved.

Some 65% of Brits said China being involved in the UK’s 5G network would prompt national security concerns, while the same number were wary of Russian participation.

Distrust of Huawei is not limited to the 5G network; 48% of Britons believe the company should not to be trusted with involvement in any strategically important infrastructure project.

Conservative voters are the wariest of the company, at 62%, compared to 44% and 57% of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters respectively.

More than a third (39%) of Brits agree that the damage to the US special relationship that would result from the UK working with Huawei would outweigh any benefit to telecoms infrastructure.

Conservatives (55%) are the likeliest to say that any telecoms benefit from Huawei would not be worth the potential impact on the special relationship, while just 31% of Labour voters and 43% of Liberal Democrats say the same.

See full results here