Telefónica Deutschland selects Huawei for 5G build amid global tension

The German government is drafting security guidelines for the expansion of 5G networks

German mobile operator Telefónica Deutschland, which operates under the O2 brand, will allow Huawei to help build its 5G network despite the ongoing global tension around whether the Chinese company should be allowed to be involved in the rollout of the next generation of cellular connectivity. The decision marks the first public commitment toward the use of Huawei equipment for 5G by one of Germany’s three largest mobile network operators.

Telefónica Deutschland said its 5G rollout will include radio equipment from Huawei and Nokia, calling the companies “proven strategic partners” on 5G infrastructure. While both companies will be “equally responsible” for supplying equipment for 5G antenna technology as part of this decision, the operator will select vendors for the more sensitive core network sometime in 2020.

The operator added that its cooperation with Huawei and Nokia is contingent on the technology and companies passing a security certification according to German law. In fact, the German government is in the process of drafting security guidelines for the expansion of 5G networks, which is expected to require certification of all infrastructure equipment, including antennas.

For its part, Huawei stated that it would be willing to sign a no-spy agreement and welcomes regulatory scrutiny just as if did when dealing with the U.S. and the U.K.

Despite Huawei’s insistence that its equipment is not, and will not be, used for spying, concern continues to mount within Germany about the use of the company’s equipment after senior politicians in the ruling coalition called for a ban.

Germany’s largest telecom company Deutsche Telekom has launched 5G in a number of German cities using Huawei equipment including Berlin. However, the telecom company, which is partly owned by the government, said last week that due to the political uncertainty surrounding Huawei, it would freeze spending on new 5G equipment. “We hope that we will get political clarity for the 5G network buildout in Germany as soon as possible in order not to fall behind,” said a spokesman.

Operators in Germany are worried that banning Huawei would mean higher 5G network implementation costs and would ultimately delay deployment.

Leave a Reply