Huawei Wins Deal to Help Build Telefonica’s 5G Network in Germany
China’s Huawei Technologies just got a seal of approval from one of Germany’s biggest telecom companies, Telefonica Deutschland.
Telefonica’s German unit, which operates the country’s second-largest wireless network, picked Huawei and Finland’s Nokia to take an equal role supplying its fifth-generation mobile phone network upgrade, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The deal is subject to the firms being certified by German authorities, it said.
The announcement is a boon to Huawei after Deutsche Telekom said last week it has stopped ordering new 5G equipment because of political uncertainty over Chinese suppliers. Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations its equipment could be used for espionage.
There’s one caveat, though. The German government is currently drawing up security guidelines for the country’s 5G network expansion, in a move that is expected to require certification of equipment, including antennas.
Hawks in the intelligence community would like to tighten the rules in a way that would block Huawei. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said in the past she does not want to bar the Chinese firm as long as it abides by certain security standards. It isn’t yet clear what requirements will ultimately be put in place, so it may be too early for Huawei to declare victory in Germany.
The deal with both firms to supply the less-sensitive radio access network “will be subject to the successful safety certification of the technology and the companies,” Telefonica Deutschland said in the statement. The company “is taking into account the ongoing political process of establishing these security guidelines without delaying the start of the 5G expansion.”
Telefonica Deutschland has not yet selected a supplier to upgrade the more-sensitive core network – the ‘brain’ that houses control functions – and will not do so until next year, Chief Executive Officer Markus Haas said on a call with reporters.
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