France Calls Telcos to Avoid Huawei and UK Considers Reversing Its Huawei 5G Plans

By Bill Toulas / July 6, 2020

Huawei is called to handle another turbulent period in Europe, as countries are thinking twice and thrice about the implications of having Chinese-made 5G equipment running their next-gen networks. France has decided not to ban Huawei yet, but instead provide the nation’s ISPs (internet service providers) with incentives to avoid the Chinese telecommunications giant. According to ANSII (Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d'Information), the United States applied pressure to France warning about spying risks, but they haven’t succumbed yet. They will not ban Huawei, but they will try to keep the company out of the country’s core mobile network. It means that the most sensitive communications won’t pass through Huawei equipment.

For telcos that are already using Huawei equipment, like the Bouygues Telecom and SFR, the French state has decided to give between three and eight years to the operators to switch elsewhere. “Orange S.A.,” which is 23%-owned by the state (formerly France Télécom S.A.), has already picked Nokia and Ericsson to undertake the development of its 5G infrastructure. ANSSI’s director Guillaume Poupard told the press that this is not an expression of hostility towards China, but merely a choice meant to help France protect its independence in communications. They just don’t see the same risk with European suppliers.

In the UK, top political groups are reconsidering the country’s previous decision to permit Huawei to undertake the development of even non-critical 5G infrastructure. Apparently, a GCHQ National Cyber Security Centre report has leaked and published on “The Telegraph,” seeking a feasible plan to cut Huawei out of UK 5G networks entirely. This includes both critical and non-critical infrastructure, and the reason for the change of direction seems to be the most recent US sanctions against the Chinese.

As the report mentions, the impact of the additional sanctions makes the previous decision to allow Huawei in 35% of the UK’s network a lot more problematic than it was previously estimated. The reports claim that Boris Johnson’s advisors will suggest a reversing timeline plan that will push all Huawei equipment out of the UK before the end of 2029. That said, it looks like the UK is doing damage mitigation work here, trying to figure out ways to minimize the adverse effects of their previous decision to ignore the United States and hope for a de-escalation of the trade war.

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