Deutsche Telekom ‘turns to Huawei’ for rail network kit

Deutsche Telekom ‘turns to Huawei’ for rail network kit

Deutsche Bahn train.jpg

Deutsche Telekom is stirring up controversy by awarding a €64 million telecoms order for the German railway company to Huawei.

The move comes just as Germany’s information security agency is set to order the removal of Huawei and ZTE equipment from 5G mobile networks, including Deutsche Telekom’s own T-Mobile.

According to the Reuters news agency, which has reported the Deutsche Bahn (DB) deal, the order is for “most of the components for its new IP network”, via Deutsche Telekom Business Solutions.

This is part of “new digital infrastructure that will enable the state-owned DB to remotely steer all operations in one of the largest rail networks in Europe”, said the agency.

DB told Reuters that it did not have to seek approval from the Bundesamts für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI, Federal Office for Information Security), the agency which is rethinking its position on Huawei and ZTE kit in public telecoms networks.

An extensive report in the newspaper Die Zeit said last week that the government security agency and the interior ministry will shortly tell mobile operators to remove electronic equipment supplied by the two companies.

Die Zeit said in its report: “The security authorities not only see the danger that backdoors could be built into the technology of such suppliers, which could give foreign secret services access to German communication channels.”

Reuters said that the BSI was not aware of any law that determined the railway systems to be “critical components”.

Konstantin von Notz, chairman of the German parliamentary committee that oversees intelligence services, told Reuters: “If it’s true that the company is betting more on Huawei technology, then that raises some serious questions.”

A Huawei spokesperson told Reuters that the firm would never harm any nation or individual. Operators say it provides top quality components for lower costs than competitors.

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