In a massive win for Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei, the European Union has decided to allow member states to use the company’s equipment as they build out their 5G infrastructures. The move follows Germany’s decision earlier this month not to ban Huawei equipment while also promoting supplier diversity.
The decision flies in the face of U.S. sanctions on using Huawei in 5G build outs due to potential security risks. The US has effectively banned the use of equipment from Huawei and smaller Chinese telecom company ZTE in government 5G build outs, and a planned executive order would also block wireless carrier purchases of Chinese telecom equipment as a threat to national security.
In fact, a planned executive order from the White House would enable the Commerce Department to block U.S. wireless carrier purchases of Chinese telecom equipment on the grounds that they are a threat to national security. Huawei has responded by filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government, alleging the sanctions signal unconstitutional discrimination.
The political fighting comes at a time when carriers are scrambling to build out their 5G networks and services to keep up with customer demand for web-scale networking. And while 5G is designed to bring the world closer together through blazing fast speeds, enabling a variety of communication services, the U.S.-Chinese trade war could in fact slowdown the pace of adoption for the U.S. and its allies.
The EU will handle potential security loopholes by requiring mobile operators to share more data on 5G cybersecurity risks. EU Digital Commissioner Andrus Ansip will encourage member states to exchange security findings, with each state free to choose whether to ban or allow Huawei equipment in their 5G networks. Germany is handling security risks via new regulations that tighten criteria for all vendors, as well as requiring all equipment to be tested at federal cyber security agency BSI before it may be used. Operators will also be required to closely monitor their 5G infrastructures for abnormalities.
Australia also banned Huawei equipment in its 5G networks last year, while the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau blocked a proposal to use the company’s equipment because of national security concerns. Canada is still deciding whether to allow the company’s equipment in its 5G build outs, and the UK is set to make a decision on it as early as next month. Based on U.K. government findings, its unlikely Huawei will be outright banned and instead British operators will only be able to use Huawei products in half of their network build outs. But carrier EE has already stated they will not work with Huawei on their 5G network while Vodafone has “paused” use of the company’s products in their infrastructure. U.K. carriers O2 and Three have gone on the record as planning to use Huawei equipment in their networks.
TechZone360 Contributing Editor
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