Huawei Technologies Co’s ability to make inroads into Europe’s future telecom infrastructure may be more about regulatory hurdles than outright bans.
The US has been engaged in a vocal campaign to keep Chinese tech companies out of advanced 5G networks that promise faster connections, enabling uses such as autonomous vehicles and remote surgery. US President Donald Trump’s administration has claimed that the companies could be tools for state espionage.
While no European agency has targeted Huawei by name, US warnings haven’t exactly fallen on deaf ears: the region’s regulators have been tightening standards that may hit Huawei harder than Nokia and Ericsson, its main European rivals.
In Germany, authorities have proposed tighter security rules for data networks rather than outlawing Huawei. The UK is currently considering the results of a review into the resilience of the telecom supply chain. The French parliament started to debate this month on a bill that would subject equipment to tests tantamount to suppliers handing over industrial secrets to be eligible to bid for contracts. Nokia and Ericsson have said they’ll comply.
The battle for Huawei’s future in Europe’s infrastructure is entering a key moment.
Europe’s telecom operators hurtling towards their 5G rollouts are updating contracts to build out networks. Prior to the fallout between China and the US — and the ongoing trade battle — Huawei was set to be in prime position to win lucrative business.
“We’ve seen progress in Europe. Risk-based frameworks are being put in place. This isn’t just about banning technology,” Rob Strayer, the US State Department’s deputy assistant for cyber policy, said in a recent call with reporters.