German Lawmakers Back Position Not To Ban Huawei – Report

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Huawei could be allowed to supply 5G equipment to German mobile operators, a strategy paper from German lawmakers has revealed

There could be more good news for Huawei in Europe after key conclusions from a strategy paper by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party were reported in the media.

The strategy paper apparently backs a position that stops short of banning Huawei from taking part in the rollout of Germany’s 5G network, Reuters reported.

It comes after the United Kingdom in January officially approved Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks. However the UK did classify Huawei as a “high risk vendor” and as such the Chinese firm will be excluded from core parts of the network including all safety critical networks.

Huawei

Huawei decision

Days after the British decision, the European Union then issued its guidance and the role that ‘high-risk’ vendors should play in European 5G networks.

Effectively, it stated that member states can decide what part Huawei can play in the 5G telecom networks of member states, and importantly it did not ban Huawei.

That British and EU move has resisted intense pressure from the United States, which had been seeking to get allies to ban the Chinese firm outright.

At the moment, Angela Merkel’s conservatives (Christian Democrats) and their Social Democrat partners have delayed until 2020 a decision on security rules for Germany’s 5G network.

That came after Telefonica Deutschland became the first major mobile operator in Germany to publicly declare it would use Huawei equipment in its 5G network.

Strategy paper

And now Reuters has reported that leading Christian Democrat lawmakers have signed off on the four-page paper on Monday evening.

That sign-off came despite weeks of wrangling with hardliners who sympathize with US warnings that Huawei’s gear is not safe.

Huawei has consistently denied US allegations.

According to Reuters, the paper seeks instead to establish fundamental principles undperpinning a risk-management approach to 5G networks.

“State actors with sufficient resources can infiltrate the network of any equipment maker,” the paper reportedly said. “Even with comprehensive technical checks, security risks cannot be eliminated completely – they can at best be minimised.

“At the same time, we are are not defenseless against attempts to eavesdrop on 5G networks. The use of strong cryptography and end-to-end encryption can secure confidentiality in communication and the exchange of data.”

Network categories

There is concern that banning Huawei equipment could be costly for German operators, as all three operators utilise equipment from the Chinese vendor.

The strategy paper makes a clear distinction between access, transport and core network that are especially sensitive, thus allowing different handling of Huawei components in the various parts of the 5G network – just like the British decided.

The paper suggests using products from several companies to avoid a “monoculture”, and calls for the concept of trustworthiness to be anchored to proposed tweaks to Germany’s telecoms and IT security laws, Reuters reported.

“Equipment makers can only be trusted if they verifiably fulfill a clearly defined security catalogue that rules out any influence from a foreign state on our 5G infrastructure,” the document reportedly says.

The draft would also give operators until 2025 to swap out equipment from existing 4G networks that was supplied by vendors who fail certification checks, a position that would mitigate the cost to operators of ripping and replacing it.

The paper also pushed back against hostile foreign takeovers, in an apparent reference to the call last week from US Attorney General William Barr, who said the US and its allies should invest in Swedish network equipment maker Ericsson or Finland’s Nokia to counter Huawei.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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