Telefonica Deutschland has become the first major mobile operator in Germany to public declare it will use Huawei equipment in its 5G network.
The company, which operates under the O2 brand in Germany, has opted to use 5G equipment from both Nokia and Huawei.
That decision comes despite repeated US pressure from the United States on its allies not to use equipment from the Chinese vendor.
For example, earlier this month at the NATO summit in Watford, England, US President Donald Trump insisted that Huawei remains a security risk.
Earlier this year US secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned US allies that “America may not be able to operate in certain environments if there is Huawei technology adjacent to that”.
Days later Prime Minister Boris Johnson then suggested that Huawei may still be excluded from British 5G networks.
That said, the UK’s National Security Council (NSC) had in April agreed to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the 5G network such as antennas and other “non-core” infrastructure.
Another issue is that three of the UK’s largest wireless providers (EE, Vodafone, and Three) are all using Huawei to build their 5G networks.
The only exception to this is O2, which has instead opted to use 5G equipment from Ericsson and Nokia.
But it is a different case in Germany, where there are three major mobile operators.
Telefonica Deutschland (O2) has now signalled it will use Huawei equipment, but warned that this would be subject to receiving the necessary certification in Germany.
The remaining two operators (market leader Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone) have yet to make to publicly confirm whether they will use Huawei equipment.
It should be noted that Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are already existing customers of Huawei.
But Telefonica Deutschland decision to include Huawei kit makes it one of few European operators to have named the Chinese vendor as a 5G vendor, Reuters reported. This comes after Sunrise of Switzerland, whose Huawei-built 5G network went live earlier this year.
For its part, the German government wants to toughen up technical certification and scrutiny of a vendor’s governance, and ministers are mulling whether to introduce additional parliamentary oversight.
But in October Germany’s federal network regulator unveiled rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks in that country, and importantly opted not to ban Huawei from the deployment of 5G networks.
“We hope that this window of uncertainty will be as short as possible – we don’t yet have certification for any of our vendors,” Telefonica Deutschland CEO Markus Haas was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on a conference call.
Construction of Telefonica Deutschland’s 5G network is expected to begin in early 2020, and the operator said it expected to have 5G up and running in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt by the end of 2021.
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