Germany Agrees Deal To Phase Out Huawei, Chinese 5G Kit – Report


German government reaches deal with mobile operators to phase out 5G equipment from Chinese firms, including Huawei

Access for Chinese firms to another important European market is being closed off, with Germany finally reaching an agreement with local mobile operators.

Reuters, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported that the German government and mobile phone carriers have agreed in principle on steps to phase components by Chinese tech firms out of the nation’s 5G wireless network over the next five years.

Reuters noted that local newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, as well as German broadcasters NDR and WDR had earlier jointly reported the news, saying the agreement gives network operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and Telefonica Deutschland more time to replace critical parts.


5G networks

Reuters reported that under the preliminary agreement driven by security considerations, operators will initially rid the country’s core network of 5G data centres of technology made by companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

The sources set the deadline for this removal is 2026, and added that a final pact has yet to be signed.

In a second phase, the role of Chinese makers’ parts for antennas, transmission lines and towers should be all but eliminated by 2029, the sources added.

Asked for comment by Reuters, Germany’s interior ministry told Reuters that the government’s talks with mobile carriers were ongoing.

“The government is acting on the basis of the national security strategy and China strategy to reduce possible security risks and dependencies,” a spokesperson said.

The Chinese embassy in Germany did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lagging Germany

Germany is considered a laggard in implementing the European Union’s security measures for 5G networks.

Indeed, the country long stopped short of imposing an outright ban on Chinese telecoms equipment providers, in the face of intense pressure from the US.

Germany’s three mobile network operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – all currently use Huawei equipment and have previously argued that replacing it would be a costly exercise.

In 2019 the then Merkel government said it wished to toughen up technical certification and scrutiny of telecoms equipment suppliers, but without excluding any specific country or vendor.

Germany’s federal network regulator had already unveiled rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks in that country, and importantly opted not to ban Huawei from the deployment of German 5G networks.

But in September 2020 Berlin said it was aiming for tougher oversight of Huawei, but again stopped short of an outright ban, as part of strategy to handle ‘high risk vendors’.

That decision came after German lawmakers in February 2020 had backed a position not to ban Huawei.

In March 2023, however, the German government began reviewing all components with security implications that were supplied by Huawei and ZTE, party triggered by concerns about an obscure piece of Huawei technology that is supposed to control power consumption.

In August 2023 the German government signalled that telecoms firms in the country must end their dependence on Chinese equipment providers such as Huawei and ZTE, regardless of cost, in the face of national security risks.

UPDATE: Soon after this report, Germany’s interior minister confirmed the government had closed a deal with telecom providers to exclude Chinese companies from the nation’s 5G network products from 2029.

“We have now reached a clear and strict agreement with the telecoms companies,” minister Nancy Faeser told reporters in Berlin, hailing the deal as a crucial safeguard for digital security in Europe’s largest economy.