After months of anticipation leading up to the roll out of 5G networks in Europe, Berlin has finally made it official that China’s Huawei will not be explicitly banned from supplying equipment for the next-generation wireless services.
The decision is a blow to US efforts to stymy Huawei’s expansion in the area of selling core network components to allies around the globe, a development that Washington contends poses a security risk.
Germany’s network regulator, BNetzA, unveiled new regulations on Thursday that aim to strengthen security requirements but will not single out any equipment providers, according to German Daily Handelsblatt.
The move comes ahead of the first 5G spectrum auctions, which will begin on March 19.
The news also follows comments from top UK intelligence officers that managing the risk posed by Huawei gear was possible without banning the company’s products outright.
Washington’s campaign to get allies to shun Chinese products for 5G networks came to a head at a wireless industry conference in Barcelona last month, at which US officials were drowned out by Huawei’s high profile.
During the event, Vodafone CEO Nick Read said that banning Huawei could delay the introduction of 5G networks by as much as two years. He added that the Chinese firm’s equipment was superior to competitors Nokia and Ericsson.
Despite the reluctance in Germany to ban Huawei outright, concerns in Germany, and the rest of Europe, remain.
German federal agencies, including the interior ministry, the foreign ministry and German intelligence are said to be pushing for avenues to block Huawei, despite the policy announced Thursday, Bloomberg reported.
The European Parliament is also expected to pass a resolution related to Huawei next Tuesday citing “security threats, coupled with China’s growing technological presence in the EU,” according to Handelsblatt.
Such a resolution, which is likely to enjoy broad support, would however be purely symbolic.