Germany plans to tighten its control over telecommunications network providers, a move that should make Chinese supplier Huawei's access to Europe's largest market more complex. An agreement in principle has been reached to expand oversight of radio access network providers that power fifth generation (5G) mobile phone services in Germany, government sources Angela Merkel said on Wednesday. The Ministry of the Economy, however, indicated that discussions on the proposed new regulatory regime "are continuing and have not been completed".
"There really is no possible future with Huawei" for the United States
Pressed by the United States, which suspects Huawei of spying for the benefit of China, European governments recently reconsidered the role of the Chinese group in building their telecom networks. Restricting Huawei's access to the German market is the approach to take, according to a senior US official. "We see things moving in the right direction in Germany … there really is no future possible with HuaweiUS Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach said Wednesday, urging Berlin to ban the Chinese supplier from its 5G networks.
Huawei, which declined to comment, nevertheless recalled its expertise and the transparency it has always shown with the country's authorities. "We see no understandable reason to restrict our market access", said the German spokesperson for the group. If Germany has not officially excluded Huawei from its 5G networks like Great Britain has done, the administrative steps it would impose on it could well end in 'to choke. "The end result is the samea senior security official told Reuters.
The German decision still under consideration
The increased surveillance would require German intelligence and cybersecurity services to continuously assess telecom network providers, subject to the opinion given by key government departments, sources said. The agreement in principle has yet to be formally drafted. "We hope that the Council of Ministers can adopt it in October, or at the latest in November.", said a source within Angela Merkel's coalition.
A German network yet well anchored with Huawei
German mobile network operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland, all of which are Huawei customers, have said replacing their equipment will be expensive. The 5G network that Deutsche Telekom is also building in Germany from numerous Huawei equipment is expected to be largely completed by the time the new IT security law comes into force. Huawei holds 28% of the global telecommunications infrastructure market, followed by Nokia and Ericsson with 15% and 14% respectively, according to consulting firm Dell'Oro.
With Reuters, by Andreas Rinke and Douglas Busvine. French version Juliette Portala, edited by Blandine Hénault.