Germany reportedly won't exclude Huawei 5G technology — if it follows the rules

  • Germany has no plans to stop Chinese telecom giant Huawei from participating in the build up of ultra-high speed internet, known as 5G, in the country if it complies with security requirements.
  • Jochen Homann, president of the country’s telecommunications regulator, told the FT newspaper that no equipment suppliers, including Huawei, “should, or may, be specifically excluded.”
  • Homann told the FT that his agency has yet to see evidence that Huawei poses a security risk.

Germany has no plans to stop Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in build up of ultra-high speed internet, known as 5G, in the country if it complies with all the security requirements, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The president of the Bundesnetzagentur, the country’s telecommunications regulator, told the FT that no equipment suppliers, including Huawei, “should, or may, be specifically excluded.”

Jochen Homann told the newspaper that his agency has yet to see evidence that Huawei poses a security risk. He added that if Huawei meets the security requirements imposed by the regulator, it can take part in the 5G network roll-out.

Huawei is up against mounting worries that its technology will enable Chinese espionage through those high-speed mobile networks. The United States banned Huawei from selling 5G networking equipment to U.S. firms. Other countries have followed suit, including Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Huawei claims the security concerns are unfounded.

The European Union so far has shunned U.S. calls to ban Huawei. The United Kingdom, a close ally of Washington, acknowledged ‘significant’ security risks posed by Huawei but has, so far, not moved to ban the firm outright.

In an interview with CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal on Saturday, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said his company will comply with European cybersecurity standards and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws that govern the European Union.

“Germany proposed the establishment of a unified global convention that would bar all equipment vendors from installing backdoors, and require them to sign a no-spy agreement,” he said, referring to a potential “no spy” deal between Berlin and Beijing.

In 5G networks, the emphasis is more on software instead of hardware. That means an equipment maker may be able to install lines of code, called “backdoors,” that let it access what’s going on inside the network — such as monitoring data transfers, tracking locations of cell phone users, or eavesdropping on conversations.

“We endorse unified global standards that make installing backdoors a crime … we want to sign such an agreement because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Ren said.

Ren added that Huawei will invest more than $100 billion in research and development over the next five years: “We will build the simplest networks, ensure cyber security, and protect user privacy.”

The Trump administration, meanwhile, warned the German government it would limit intelligence-sharing if Berlin allows Huawei to build its 5G infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Read more about the German regulator’s stance on Huawei from the Financial Times here.

CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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