Germany leaves 5G door open to Huawei

Germany leaves 5G door open to Huawei

Germany has finalized rules for the development of 5G mobile networks that will not exclude China’s Huawei Technologies in the United States.

Government officials have confirmed that Germany’s so-called security catalog foresaw the assessment of technical and other criteria, but that no single vendor would be prohibited in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors.

Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman said, “We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company.”

The US has put pressure on its allies to shut down Huawei, the world’s leading supplier of telecommunications equipment with a global market share of 28 per cent, alleging that its gear included’ back doors’ that would allow China to spy on other countries.

German operators are all clients of Huawei and warned that a ban on Chinese vendors would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to the introduction of 5G networks.

The Shenzhen-based company has denied Washington’s allegations that it imposed export controls on Huawei in May, lifted its smartphone business and raised questions as to whether the Chinese company can maintain its market leadership.

US officials also argued that under China’s national intelligence law, all citizens and companies are required to work together in the field of espionage.

Officials said that Germany’s safety catalogue was due to be published shortly, upholding an earlier decision to keep vendors on a level playing field for next-generation networks that will support ultra-fast mobile broadband services and operate smart factories, offices and towns.

With billions of digital devices, sensors and cameras are expected to be hooked up, 5G networks will be far more ubiquitous than their predecessors.

At the same time, the fact that 5G networks rely more on technology that can be quickly upgraded makes it more difficult to monitor cyber threats.

Insight Analysis

The German rules come after the European Union last week warned against the risk of increased cyber attacks by state-sponsored actors on 5G networks. Nevertheless, the document produced by the Member States stopped short of describing China as a threat.

Network operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland would be required to identify and apply enhanced safety standards to essential network components, the Handelsblatt daily reported earlier, citing the draft rulebook.

More specifically, manufacturers should be accredited as trustworthy, giving customers legal recourse to exclude them and seeking damages if it is proven that equipment has been used for spying or sabotage.

In the meantime, the certification of sensitive equipment would have to be received from the German Cyber Security Agency, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

Such specifications were in line with the main ground rules laid down by the Federal Network Regulator (BNetzA) and the BSI in March prior to the drafting of the full set of rules.

Neal Path

Neal Path is a Digital Policy journalist specialised in EU digital politics.

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