The saga continues between Huawei and the US as European allies defy Donald Trump’s administration plea to ban the Chinese firm from 5G networks.
Despite efforts by the US State Department to convince European allies to ban Huawei from being included in the rollout of 5G technologies, nations including the UK, Italy and Germany are not taking any notice.
The US alleges that Huawei’s networking equipment could be used for espionage by the Chinese government, with sceptics telling broadcaster CNBC that Huawei would have no choice but to hand over network data to the Chinese government if Beijing asked for it.
The tech giant has repeatedly denied these claims with its Chief Legal Officer, Song Liuping describing the US ban as based on “Numerous false, unproven and untested propositions.”
In fact, in its most aggressive move yet, Huawei has asked a US federal court to overturn part of the National Defence Authorisation Act – one which would force the US to provide evidence – stating that a ban on its products is “unlawful” and will “harm US consumers.”
Last Tuesday, in the midst of the US crusade which turned up the heat on US allies to also ban the Chinese telecommunications firm, Germany’s 5G spectrum auction began.
Instead of banning Huawei outright, German regulators have tightened rules on all network vendors. These such vendors will not bid in the auction but will be key partners in upgrading the network infrastructure.
Further disregarding Washington’s protests, German chancellor Angela Markel earlier this month said that the country will define its own security standards.
But it’s not just Germany that is resisting the US plea, Italy’s government has also said that it will not ban Huawei from its telecommunications industry; reiterating that there is no proof of any security threat.
And in the UK, intelligence officials have said that any risk posed by Huawei can be mitigated. Individual carriers like the UK-headquartered Vodafone, have expressed that a ban on Huawei would cost it millions of pounds and slow the rollout of 5G.
What about other European auctions?
Other European auctions including Italy, Finland, Switzerland and Austria have all auctioned 5G spectrum – most of which have been low-key affairs.
Countries like France, however, have yet to hold 5G auctions, leaving Europe as a whole lagging behind earlier adopters: the US, Japan and Korea.
What’s at stake with 5G?
The launch of 5G is dominating tech news, especially since MWC back in February where a myriad of 5G devices were showcased, yet there is still a consumer misconception that 5G is just about making mobile internet faster.
The fifth generation of cellular mobile communications has been described as one of the most important technologies in recent times, it will support other technologies from driverless cars to smart cities – technologies that will, once launched, change the way in which we live day-to-day.
The US, of course, wants to be a leading player – but so does China.
Huawei and smaller vendors including ZTE are also banned from providing 5G technology to Australia and Japan.