The German government will consult with telecoms operators and vendors on whether or not to let Chinese telecom firms such as Huawei to participate in building the country’s 5G networks, according to a Reuters report.
Government and industry leaders have been hoping to achieve clarity on the matter before Germany embarks on the construction of next-generation 5G mobile networks by spectrum auction, which is expected to begin in late March.
At a meeting last week, German ministers discussed how to safeguard security in future 5G mobile networks amid mounting pressure by the US government to ban Huawei and other Chinese telecom operators.
The US is currently locked in a trade war with China after Trump decided on tariffs for Chinese imports last year.
While they continue to work towards a resolution, ministers are unlikely to make a final decision within the next two weeks. Work still needs to be done to rectify issues of cost, feasibility, and practical security measures, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.
The German media previously reported that officials had already decided on a “common approach”, but one source denied that.
Following last weeks meeting, chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has ruled out an outright ban of Huawei’s 5G network.
“I don’t think this is about ruling out or not ruling out individual service providers,” said economy minister Peter Altmaier at the time of the meeting.
The German government is reportedly planning to introduce a list of security requirements for 5G suppliers, which is likely to be completed in the next couple of weeks.
Huawei equipment is already largely banned in the US, but German telecom operators have warned the German government that it will lead to increased costs, and delays in the introduction of 5G networks within the country.
Last month, Deutsche Telecom said in an internal assessment that banning Huawei would cause Europe to fall behind both Asia and the US in the race to install 5G networks.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Monday (Feb.11th) warned European countries that using Huawei equipment could make it “difficult” for the US to maintain an alliance with a certain country.
“It also makes it more difficult for America to be present,” Pompeo told reporters at a US embassy in Budapest, Reuters reported. “That is, if that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them,” he added.
Pompeo had raised concerns over the national and regional presence of Huawei in talks with Hungarian prime minister.
“We want to make sure we identify (to) them the opportunities and the risks with using that equipment. And then they will get to make their decisions,” he said.
The US believes that the equipment could be used to spy on companies and the governments.
Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims that their equipment is used for cyber-espionage.
The news comes after UK lawmakers said that they are planning to introduce new laws that would block Chinese firms such as Huawei from its sensitive infrastructure projects within the country.