Estonia votes to limit its use of Huawei 5G technology

16 Sep 2019

Image: PA Media

Country officials in Estonia have voted to restrict the use of Huawei’s 5G technology, citing political concerns.

Estonia is set to restrict the use of equipment and technology from Chinese telecom giant Huawei in its government sector.

Officials in the country, which is one of Europe’s most wired and technologically advanced nations, cited security concerns and recommendations by the US — a key NATO ally.

The Estonian news site Delfi reported that foreign trade and technology minister Kert Kingo created an expert group in June with the aim of setting policies and standards this year for the use of technology in Estonian government institutions.

Its leader, Raul Rikk, said the group had already taken a clear position that Huawei should not be allowed to provide technology for 5G networks in Estonia.

Rikk said the issue is not the quality of Huawei’s software and hardware, “but whether these devices can be used for political purposes in the future”.

Entity ban

Huawei has been locked in a trade battle with the US since the American government placed the Chinese telecoms giant onto an ‘entity ban’ list in May 2019. This effectively barred US companies from working with Huawei, causing vital technology partners such as Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, Microsoft and more to break ties.

The move sent shockwaves through Huawei’s business and has seen other nations pulling away from the beleaguered firm as a partner for 5G infrastructure.

In turn, Huawei has accused the US of launching cyberattacks on its networks and as well as leveraging the FBI to intimidate company employees.

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfai has significantly increased the frequency of his media appearances amid the trade issues. Most recently, the founder said in an extended interview with The Economist that he is considering a once-off sale to a non-Asian company of the company’s portfolio of 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and more.

This would allow for a competitor to emerge in what the founder is describing as “an olive branch to the West”. Zhengfai said he hopes that this will assuage concerns surrounding the prospect of a Chinese firm having a monopoly on the infrastructure enabling the world’s cutting-edge mobile networks.

— PA Media, with additional reporting from Eva Short.