Italy Blocks Telco From Implementing Huawei 5G Deal

The Italian government has reportedly vetoed a 5G deal between Huawei and telecoms group Fastweb, as European countries take an increasingly hard line against the Chinese telecoms equipment giant.

The decision, reportedly taken at a cabinet meeting late last week, marks the first time Italy has blocked Huawei from making a deal to provide 5G equipment to sensitive core networks within the country.

The government used special vetting powers to block Fastweb, the Italian unit of Swisscom, from implementing a supply deal with Huawei in the most sensitive part of its 5G network, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.


Veto

The government asked Fastweb to “diversify its suppliers”, Reuters reported, citing a senior government source.

Fastweb had reportedly planned to use Huawei as its sole 5G supplier.

The government also wants to evaluate whether to bar Huawei from supplying other 5G core networks, Reuters reported.

To date, most European countries have refrained from outright bans on Huawei 5G equipment.

The UK, by contrast, earlier this year ordered such a ban and told telecoms companies to remove Huawei 5G networking equipment they had already installed.

The move reversed a previous decision  to allow Huawei to supply non-core 5G equipment, subject to a market share cap.

Tougher line

Italy last year became the first major Western country to join China’s Belt and Road infrastruture initiative, drawing criticism from the US.

On a visit to Italy last month, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo reiterated US allegations that Huawei and other Chinese suppliers pose a threat to European countries’ national security, allegations Huawei and China deny.

But Italy has more recently imposed increasingly strict technical and security provisions on telecoms firms that use Huawei 5G equipment, making implementations increasingly questionable.

In July Telecom Italia barred Huawei from a tender process to supply 5G equipment for its core network.

France has also imposed conditions that amount to what industry watchers have called a de-facto ban on Huawei 5G equipment.

And last week Sweden officially barred operators from using Huawei as a supplier of 5G gear on security grounds, leading China to say it was considering trade sanctions against Sweden.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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