KPN to use Huawei in 5G radio but not core network

26 April 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Netherlands operator KPN says it will use Huawei for its 5G radio access network (RAN) but “a Western vendor” for the 5G core network.

Huawei moved fast this morning to announce that KPN “has signed a preliminary agreement”, shortly after KPN itself said it “has implemented a multi-vendor policy” and that it “has decided to further tighten its security policy for its fixed and mobile network suppliers”.

According to Reuters this morning, KPN’s CFO Jan Kees de Jager said Huawei kit will be replaced in the core of its mobile network. He said this would not lead to greater costs, the agency reported.

Earlier this week a UK government security committee said it was likely to approve Huawei in the RANs that the UK’s four networks will build – but not in the core.

KPN’s decision seems to indicate this is likely to be the European pattern – Huawei considered for the RAN but not for the core of 5G infrastructure.

Three companies are likely to be competing for KPN’s core network – Cisco, which already supplies Vodafone UK’s core, plus Ericsson and Nokia, which supplies KPN’s fixed network.

Steven Cai, CEO of Huawei Benelux, said: “We appreciate KPN’s trust and are honoured with their choice to partner with us for the mobile radio access network modernisation.”

He said: “We are aware of the concerns and discussions regarding safety and security. It is hard however to defend yourselves when no clear facts are on the table.”

The Reuters news agency noted this morning that the government of the Netherlands has set up a task force with KPN and other major operators in the Netherlands this month to analyse the “vulnerability of 5G telecommunications networks to misuse by technology vendors ... and measures needed to manage risks”.