‘Who’s afraid of Huawei?’ German government asks

17 January 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The German government is looking at ways that Huawei can be excluded from 5G mobile licensing, according to one of the country’s leading business newspapers.

Handelsblatt says that the Foreign Ministry in Berlin is holding a meeting today with the subject “Wer hat Angst vor Huawei?” – or “Who’s afraid of Huawei?”

The government is worried about the dominance of the Chinese vendor, says the newspaper, especially as investment in 5G networks is about to start.

Allison Williams, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Today, wrote in a comment piece: “Berlin is getting cold feet about China. Ministers are awkwardly trying to work out how to exclude Huawei from the companies bidding to build Germany’s 5G network. They’re apparently putting together tougher security prerequisites that Huawei couldn’t comply with in order to keep Beijing out. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll rewrite the telecommunications law.”

The concern centres on the fact that Huawei is recognised widely among telecoms executives to be the leader in 5G technology.

Ministers are worrying about the legality of excluding one company, says the newspaper. In October 2018 the government said that there was no legal basis for doing so. Now the emphasis appears to have switched to insisting on the security of future network technology.

However, “excluding Huawei could ramp up costs and slow down construction”, writes Williams in Handelsblatt.