Posted on Oct 2, 2020 at 12:45 PM
Angela Merkel's government is preparing to present a bill at the end of October that should de facto block the use of Huawei components in the German 5G network. Without formally prohibiting it …
In practice, the text would provide that each component of 5G telecom equipment manufacturers is tested and certified by the German IT security agency, the BSI – equivalent to the French Anssi – and by the intelligence services (BND), including included during software updates.
This bill – which looks like the law on securing mobile networks passed in France in 2019 – would target Huawei in particular, but without saying so.
The duration of these procedures "de facto excludes Huawei because operators will have every interest in turning to other suppliers to save time", specifies Martin Schallbruch, of the Digital Society Institute, in Berlin and former head of department at the Ministry of inside.
After two years of procrastination, internal discussions within the government are however "not yet completed", indicates the Ministry of the Economy. At this stage, the procedures envisaged take into account the "global political situation" in which technology suppliers such as Huawei operate, points out the project obtained by the business daily "Handelsblatt".
The text is a compromise between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, very reluctant towards Huawei, the Ministry of the Economy, more attentive to telecom operators, and the Ministry of the Interior, which remains neutral, Martin analyzes. Schallbruch.
An additional cost of 55 billion
The German operators, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica (under the O2 brand) and Vodafone had nevertheless called on the government for leniency.
They said excluding Huawei from the market would add more than $ 50 billion to the 5G deployment bill in Germany. A cost all the more burdensome as they have already had to spend 6.5 billion to access 5G frequencies.
“Ericsson and Nokia provide our core network but 50% of our antennas come from Huawei,” Volker Petendorf, spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom, indicated at the end of September. However, the bill relates to “strategic” components, without specifying whether it is the core network or the antennas.
“It is clear that excluding Huawei will make the development of the network much more expensive for operators,” admits Jörn Müller-Quade from the Institute for Theoretical Informatics in Karlsruhe. However, “the risk of computer espionage is real, via backdoors that are difficult to spot. "
Favor Nokia and Ericcson
Less than the risk of eavesdropping, limited by encryption, metadata "makes it possible to identify who is calling whom, how often and, therefore, to know who is negotiating with whom and which sectors are active, for example. "
Behind the political question, the stake is also that of industrial sovereignty. After the ban on Huawei in the United States and the United Kingdom, the closure of the largest European market would place Ericsson and Nokia on the front line for 6G and the next generations of telecoms, underlines Martin Schallbruch.