France will allow its telecom operators to use part of Huawei’s equipment to deploy 5G, Reuters learned from two sources familiar with the matter Thursday, March 12. For several months, the American government has been calling for a ban on the Chinese equipment supplier.
The United States accuses Huawei of spying activities on behalf of the Chinese government, which the world’s largest telecom equipment supplier denies. This controversy is swelling against the backdrop of the deployment of 5G, an international geopolitical issue because this fifth generation of telephony must make it possible to connect cars and a number of other objects, and to create new services in health and industry.
“They don’t want to ban Huawei but …”
If officially no equipment manufacturer is banned in France, some sector players fear that Huawei is “de facto” banned from the 5G market which will allow new uses in strategic sectors such as connected vehicles, l industry or telemedicine.
Anssi’s verdict is crucial for operators SFR (Altice) and Bouygues Telecom , a large part of the network of which is already equipped with Huawei equipment. The number one Orange and Free ( Iliad ) have chosen European equipment manufacturers for 5G.
According to the two sources, who requested anonymity, the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi), responsible for controlling 5G telecom equipment, will approve Huawei equipment, but only for non-sensitive parts of the company. network, such as antennas, considered to pose less security risks. “They don’t want to ban Huawei, but the principle is: ‘you have to get them out of the network,'” said one of the sources. The core network is considered strategic in a mobile infrastructure, in particular because it is equipped with software processing sensitive data including that of users.
A course of action drawn by Thierry Breton
France would thus follow in the footsteps of Great Britain, which authorized the Chinese equipment supplier at the end of January to play a limited role in the implementation of 5G. “High risk” suppliers will be authorized to play a role in the “non-sensitive” areas of the 5G network, their involvement will be limited to 35% and they will be excluded from all sensitive networks and places.
According to a sector source, restrictions will also apply in France, in application of the guidelines drawn up by the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton . The latter notably encouraged operators not to select “risky suppliers” in capitals, in military zones or near a nuclear power plant, for example. Authorizations from Anssi were initially expected in February, but its experts asked operators many questions, the sources said.
The French government, in favor of the European preference
In February, the French government said it was “favorable in principle” to the European preference in the choice of equipment manufacturers called upon to deploy 5G networks in France. “There is a position that has been taken on 5G which is very clear, we do not discriminate against any company whatsoever, neither Chinese nor American. We simply take care of our security interests and our strategic interests, “said Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire, interviewed by BFM Business.
The French state must immediately issue its first green lights to equipment requests made by operators who have the choice between the European groups Nokia and Ericsson and the Chinese company Huawei for the deployment of the latest generation of mobile technology.
ANSSI and the Ministry of the Economy did not wish to comment on this information.