Must Huawei be excluded from the 5G network expansion in Germany? This question is currently being discussed controversially by experts from politics and industry. For some, the telecommunications company from the Far East is a risk to data security in Germany and an open door for Chinese espionage. Others see all this as just “alarmism” and consider a rapid 5G network expansion impossible without Huawei’s know-how.
What is at issue?
On the one hand, there is the USA and its secret services, for whom it has been proven that the Chinese government is conducting espionage with the help of Huawei technology. The concrete suspicion: Huawei is supposed to be able to secretly access data via an interface in the mobile phone network, which is actually intended to enable security authorities to carry out legal surveillance measures. On the other hand, there is Huawei, claiming that these are old and groundless accusations. After all, the mentioned interface for surveillance is found in all networks, including those of other network operators.
What do the politicians say?
In Berlin, there is still a heated discussion about a possible exclusion of Huawei. According to information from WDR, NDR, and Süddeutsche Zeitung, German security offices are no longer convinced by the US accusations. Thus, concrete evidence of Chinese espionage is still missing. And German government representatives also showed increasing skepticism at the Munich Security Conference, as reported by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the newspaper, there is still a lack of solid evidence that the concrete interface was actually being abused.
Despite the lack of evidence opponents are still critical of Huawei’s involvement. “Based on the experience of recent years, it is clear that Chinese providers are not trustworthy and reliable partners in the 5G rollout, but rather an incalculable risk for IT security in Germany,” says FDP politician Manuel Höferlin, chairman of the committee for the Digital Agenda in the German Bundestag.
What do the mobile providers say?
While politicians are still discussing, the three major German mobile phone providers Vodafone, Telekom and Telefónica are progressing: To expand the 5G standard as quickly as possible, all three want to rely on components from China. Telefónica and Vodafone in particular are sticking with Huawei technology. Telefónica already relies on Nokia and Huawei technology, Vodafone on Ericsson and Huawei. Only Telekom wants to wait for further political developments. All three providers warned in the past that Huawei components are needed to remain internationally competitive.
A final decision from Berlin is still expected. Others have already made progress. For example, the EU and Great Britain have spoken out against a general exclusion of Huawei in the 5G network expansion. However, the British core network, for example, is to be built without parts from China in principle. Regarding the rollout of many 5G-consumer devices in 2020, a quick decision is urgently needed in Germany.