Germany’s telecom regulatory body, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), announced that it is preparing to allocate frequencies for local 5G networks in the second half of this year.
BNetzA said companies will be able to apply for spectrum in the 3.7-3.8 GHz band for use in industrial applications. Industrial firms Volkswagen, Daimler Siemens and BASF have all indicated interest in local 5G networks for automation and industrial IoT applications.
“There is great potential for 5G, especially in the industrial area,” said Jochen Homann, BNetzA president, according to Reuters. “We want to make frequencies available for companies to build local networks that exactly meet their needs.”
The allocation is separate from the spectrum auction BNetzA plans to begin later this month for national 5G licenses. BNetzA has been accepting applications for national 5G licenses since November 2018 amid concerns that Germany might fall behind its European neighbors in connectivity. Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland, which together make up Germany’s top three wireless providers, are all expected to participate in the national license auction.
But complications may arise in deploying 5G networks. All three operators have also held 5G trials with Huawei, in frequencies ranging from 3.4-3.8 GHz. Earlier this year, an internal document from Deutsche Telekom indicated that the company could face up to two years of delays in rolling out 5G networks if Germany decides to ban Huawei equipment. Huawei products and systems are currently installed in thousands of its wireless towers, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The U.S. has been pushing other countries to ban Huawei network equipment from 5G deployments over security concerns. Germany has resisted those efforts, affirming over the weeks that it doesn’t want to ban Huawei products.
Last week, BNetzA released security guidelines for wireless operators building out 5G networks, which state that equipment “may only be sourced from trustworthy suppliers whose compliance with national security regulations and provisions for the secrecy of telecommunications and for data protection is assured,” according to a report from ABC News.
The guidelines indicate that wireless operators should source equipment from several different manufacturers and should build in redundancy for key components. It also states that network traffic must be regularly monitored, and security-related components must be certified by Germany's IT security agency.
U.S. officials have argued that if the Chinese government ever requested backdoor access to telecom equipment, Huawei would have to comply. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing and filed suit against the U.S. last week.