Anyone interested in 5G will not be able to avoid Huawei. The Chinese company has been making headlines for weeks – both positive and negative. The United States accuse the telecom equipment manufacturer of being China’s means to an end and using its 5G innovations for espionage purposes. Not surprisingly the Americans decided to boycott Huawei. But what about the European states?
Looking at the European Union first, the Commission made certain recommendations to the Member States on this issue in March. Although Huawei was not mentioned by name, EU countries were strongly advised to review and evaluate the cybersecurity of their networks.
“5G technology will transform our economy and society and open massive opportunities for people and businesses. But we cannot accept this happening without full security built in. It is therefore essential that 5G infrastructures in the EU are resilient and fully secure from technical or legal backdoors”, said Vice-President of the Commission Andrus Ansip, who is in charge of the Digital Single Market.
The Netherlands exclude Huawei
KPN, the largest Dutch telecommunications group, announced today that it will not use Huawei to build the 5G network in the Netherlands. It considers “the evolving assessment on the protection of vital infrastructure and the influence this may have on future Dutch policy” and “plans to select a Western vendor for the construction of the new mobile core network for 5G”, which was stated in its press release.
A 5G network always consists of a core and a radio access network (RAN), which allows devices to connect to 5G. That being said, the Netherlands will only use Huawei technology for the RAN part, such as antennas. Now, if we look a little more up north, Great Britain takes the same path. The British government allows their carriers to work with the Chinese company only apart from the core-network as well.
Germany, on the other hand, does not believe in a ban. Even if the German government is aware of the potential threat of espionage, it does not consider a boycott to be an option. And they’re not quite wrong about that. Without Huawei, the 5G process in Germany would presumably take even longer than it already does. Neither Nokia nor Ericsson can replace Huawei as a network supplier. France and Italy are probably also aware of that fact and do not want to take action against Huawei.