By Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) - A taskforce called on Tuesday for targets for the amount of telecoms kit to be sourced from new vendors or through open architecture to boost the range of 5G suppliers after Britain's ban on Huawei.
The Telecom Diversification Taskforce also said that a timetable to wind down 2G and 3G networks needed to be drawn up and the development of Open RAN architecture supported.
These measures are designed to support Britain's 250 million pound ($350 million) diversification strategy that aims to reduce dependence on Ericsson and Nokia.
It said Britain should set a "challenging ambition" for the portion of kit supplied by alternative vendors or using Open RAN, adding that 25% by the mid-2020s should be the "initial aspiration" for network operators.
Taskforce chair Ian Livingston, a former BT CEO, said Britain had an opportunity to create a more diverse network and lead in the adoption of next-generation network technology.
"This will present substantial opportunities for UK based suppliers and users alike," he said.
Ericsson said it welcomed openness, future innovation and cross-industry collaboration, but it was important that any measures supported the current roll-out of 5G networks.
"The best way to inspire innovation and market acceleration is by ensuring regulation is technology neutral and demand is driven by the merits of different technologies," said Christian Leon, Ericsson's head of networks and managed services.
"5G has been implemented more quickly than any previous generation of technology, and it's been made possible by industry collaboration and market forces being allowed to flourish," Leon added.
The report came as the government proposed rules to help eliminate gaps in rural mobile coverage, including allowing new and existing masts to be five metres taller and two metres wider.
Combined with the shared rural network announced last year, the rules will help eliminate mobile blindspots, boosting the rural economy.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "These practical changes strike a careful balance between removing unnecessary barriers holding back better coverage, while making sure we protect our precious landscape."
Stricter rules would apply in protected areas, including national parks, conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage sites.
($1 = 0.7149 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alexander Smith)