Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

France and UK cooling on using Huawei in 5G networks

US government urges allies to exclude Chinese giant from West's next-generation communications

Huawei won't be banned from the French 5G, the head of the country's cybersecurity agency said. AP
Huawei won't be banned from the French 5G, the head of the country's cybersecurity agency said. AP

Two European nations appear to be cooling on allowing Chinese tech giant Huawei become an integral part of their 5G telecoms networks.

The head of the French cyber-security agency said it was urging national telecoms companies to avoid switching to Huawei, but there would not be a complete ban on using it.

Guillaume Poupard spoke to Les Echos newspaper on Sunday, as the Sunday Telegraph reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was ready to phase out Huawei’s role in his country's 5G network.

UK officials are drawing up plans to expedite the removal of existing Huawei equipment, although an exact timetable has yet to be set, Bloomberg reported.

The decision would mark an about-face by Mr Johnson’s administration, which in January cleared Huawei to take part in the UK’s 5G project subject to strict conditions, including a ban on its equipment in parts of the network considered to be sensitive.

The US government has wanted its allies to exclude Huawei from the West's next-generation communications, saying Beijing could use it for spying. Huawei has denied the charges.

France's decision over Huawei's equipment is crucial for two of the country's four telecoms operators, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, because about half of their current mobile network is made by the Chinese group.

“What I can say is that there won't be a total ban," Mr Poupard said. "For operators that are not currently using Huawei, we are inciting them not to go for it.

"For those that are already using Huawei, we are delivering authorisations for durations that vary between three and eight years."

Huawei at the 2019 Viva Tech gathering in Paris. Reuters
Huawei at the 2019 Viva Tech gathering in Paris. Reuters

He said that from next week, operators that have not received explicit authorisation to use Huawei equipment for the 5G network can consider it a rejection of their requests.

Mr Poupard said the choice was made to protect French independence, and not as an act of hostility towards China.

"This is not Huawei bashing or anti-Chinese racism," he said. "All we're saying is that the risk is not the same with European suppliers as with non-Europeans."

Updated: July 6, 2020 01:53 AM

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