Germany defies U.S. call to exclude Huawei from 5G rollout

The United States has been pushing its allies to bar Huawei from building mobile networks due to security concerns. After almost a year, Germany has decided that they will not bar any company including Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G network rollout.

According to Reuters, the Government officials have confirmed Germany’s security catalogue which covers the evaluation of technical and other criteria, but no single vendor would be barred to create a level playing field. This is consistent with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position on the issue and the US had previously warned that they would cut down on sharing of sensitive information if Germany does not exclude Huawei hardware from its 5G infrastructure.

Huawei which has a global market share of 28% in the telecoms equipment sector has been accused by the US for providing a back door to China which allows them to spy on other nations. Late last year, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) had said that it will not ban Huawei from its borders unless there is evidence of espionage.

A couple of US allies including as Australia, New Zealand and Japan have imposed bans on Huawei based on suspicion that they are working under the influence of the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations made by the US and they have challenged countries that have banned their equipment to show evidence of security threat.

Germany operators are existing customers of Huawei and if the Government were to impose a ban, they have warned that it would cost them extra years of delays and billions of dollars more to launch 5G.

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The German rules were released after the EU had warned about the risk of increased cyberattacks on 5G networks by state-backed actors. However, they didn’t single out China as a threat. Based on a draft of the rulebook, operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland will be required to identify and apply enhanced security standards to critical network elements.

Participating vendors must be certified as trustworthy by Germany’s cybersecurity authority as well as the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). In addition, vendors are required to give customers legal recourse to exclude them and seek damages if it can be proven that their equipment can be used for spying or sabotage.

In Malaysia, there are no plans to ban Huawei from rolling out 5G. Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, had said that Huawei has not been found to have done any wrongdoing and Malaysia will not follow other countries without basis.

Earlier this month, Maxis has signed an agreement with Huawei, which will allow the Chinese telecommunications giant to supply 4G LTE and 5G radio equipment and services. The 5G spectrum for Malaysia will be determined as early as Q1 2020 and it is expected to be available for commercial use in the second half of 2020.


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Alexander Wong