Germany says it may not block Huawei from its 5G plans

20 Feb 2019

Huawei store in Kuala Lumpur. Image: 1000Words/Depositphotos 

Sources in Germany have said that the country has no plans to exclude Huawei from its 5G network.

German officials have told The Wall Street Journal that the country has made a “preliminary decision” to allow Huawei to bid on contracts for 5G networking, despite growing calls from the US to cease doing business with the company. For some time now, the US has accused the organisation of being an espionage risk.

Earlier this week, beleaguered Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei described the continued investigations by the US into the Chinese firm – including the arrest of his daughter and company CFO, Meng Wanzhou – as politically motivated.

Germany may make allowances for Huawei

While the US is taking a tough stance, Germany has said that a cybersecurity agency investigation did not dredge up evidence that Huawei was capable of stealing data via its wireless equipment.

The probe also received help from the US and, according to The Wall Street Journal, it “failed to show that Huawei could use its equipment to clandestinely siphon off data, according to senior agency and government officials”. Germany also stated that conversations with US and UK officials about potential security holes were “inconclusive”.

German economy minister Peter Altmaier commented to Reuters about The Wall Street Journal story: “I explicitly cannot confirm this report, because we are still in the process of discussing this with other ministries.”

Not everyone is following the US

Yesterday (19 February), it was reported that the UK may also not fully support an outright ban on Huawei equipment from its 5G roll-out strategy. Some intelligence agencies say that it is possible to mitigate the alleged risks of using the Chinese firm’s hardware by testing it at special labs overseen by expert officials.

Ireland’s own Eir also stated that it would continue to use Huawei radio access gear in its 4G and 5G expansion plans. At the end of January, German telecoms operator Deutsche Telekom proposed that infrastructure should be tested independently to determine whether any of the espionage claims were valid.

Head of Huawei in Germany, Dennis Zuo, told German paper Handelsblatt that the claims were untrue. He said: “The security of networks is our top priority.”

A spokesperson for the German government told CNBC that the necessary security requirements for 5G would be added to the country’s Telecommunications Act. It seems the campaign to bar Huawei from participating in global 5G proceeds may be beginning to falter.

Huawei store in Kuala Lumpur. Image: 1000Words/Depositphotos 

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects