Germany on Monday confirmed the country won’t single out any telecom equipment vendor, including China’s Huawei, for exclusion from its 5G networks, according to Reuters.
Germany has finalized and plans to publish its so-called security catalog shortly, with a government spokesperson verifying at a news conference that it will not pre-emptively ban any company from next-generation mobile networks in an effort to keep a level playing field among suppliers.
The decision comes amid U.S. pressure and warnings that Huawei poses a security threat under the influence of the Chinese government, and its infrastructure gear could be used for acts like state-backed espionage.
Huawei was essentially blacklisted by Washington in May from buying certain American tech components when it, along with affiliates, was put on the U.S. Commerce Department Entity List. This included access to Google’s Android operating system, and Huawei notably had to launch its Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones without Google’s Play Store apps and services.
As trade tensions between the U.S. and China continue, Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations that its telecom equipment contains ‘back doors’ for spying or that it poses any more of a threat than other major suppliers. Still, U.S. allies around the world have been weighing whether to keep the Chinese tech giant out of 5G networks.
Last week the European Union member states published a report assessing security risks of 5G networks, which did not call out China or Huawei as specific threats, but warned of increased risks from state-backed actors, as well as the reliance on a single supplier.
Under the German rules, critical network equipment would need to be certified by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Network operators, meanwhile, including Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica Deutschland, and Vodafone, would need to implement enhanced security standards for critical parts of the network, according to Reuters. Suppliers could also be legally excluded or subject to payments for damages if proof was discovered that spying had occurred after the vendor was certified as trustworthy.
In the U.S., major operators are primarily using 5G equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, as well as some smaller players. A report recently surfaced in the Financial Times that Washington officials were considering ways to boost European infrastructures vendors to counteract Huawei’s dominance, such as funneling money, or alternatively encouraging development of U.S. rival.
In addition to keeping Huawei out of 5G networks, the U.S. is also seeking to get rid of any of the vendor’s gear that may already be in place in the country. Congress recently introduced legislation to authorize $1 billion for small telecom operators to rip out and replace Huawei equipment in their networks.
According to Reuters, German operators who were all Huawei customers were concerned that excluding the Chinese vendor could add billions of dollars to the cost of 5G deployments and result in years of delays.