Germany Delays Huawei 5G Decision

Angela Merkel © 360b shutterstock

German government delays Huawei 5G decision until 2020, despite pressure from local operators against ban

Germany, like the UK, has yet to make its official decision on the use of 5G equipment from Chinese firm Huawei Technologies.

Reuters reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat partners have delayed until next year a decision on security rules for Germany’s 5G network.

It comes after Telefonica Deutschland earlier this month became the first major mobile operator in Germany to publicly declare it will use Huawei equipment in its 5G network.

Huawei decision

The company, which operates under the O2 brand in Germany, has opted to use 5G equipment from both Nokia and Huawei.

However O2 did state that this would be subject to receiving the necessary certification in Germany.

The remaining two German operators (market leader Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone) have yet to make to publicly confirm whether they will use Huawei equipment.

According to Reuters, Merkel’s government wishes to toughen up technical certification and scrutiny of telecoms equipment suppliers, but without excluding any specific country or vendor.

Lawmakers with Merkel’s coalition partners, Social Democrat (SPD), on Tuesday backed an internal proposal that, if adopted by the government, could effectively translate into shutting out Huawei.

However the SDP lawmakers did state that their goal was to reach a common position with Merkel’s CDU/CSU group.

“I think we will have a solution in January,” SPD lawmaker Jens Zimmermann was quoted as saying. “We will have a common blueprint and it will be considerably more severe.”

This last point referenced rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks that were finalised by Merkel’s government in October.

Germany’s federal network regulator has 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 5G networks.

Merkel’s conservatives are said to be divided on the issue.

Certain conservatives are apparently opposed to the cautious approach of the chancellor and want to adopt the SPD’s strict standards, which stipulate that suppliers from countries without “constitutional supervision” should be excluded.

But there are others, more moderate, that want to avoid a showdown with Merkel, and have reportedly suggested that the stringent security criteria should apply to the core network only.

Moderate conservatives have proposed that no single company should become dominant by supplying more than 50 percent of the 5G network components. The rules would be stricter for non-EU suppliers.

Operator frustration

This delay is sure to frustrate German mobile operators (like it has UK operators), all of whom have used Huawei equipment in the past.

According to Reuters, they have warned that banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks.

There has been pressure from the United States on its allies not to use equipment from the Chinese vendor.

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”.

Huawei has always denied that its equipment presents a security risk and has repeatedly offered the West full access to its kit.

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