Germany to wait until March for Huawei decision – report

German Chancellor Angela Merkel might ask German lawmakers to wait until the conclusion of the March EU Summit before making a Huawei decision, reports suggest.

With the telecommunications industry chomping at the bit for clarity and certainty in the supplier ecosystem, such rumours will offer nothing but frustration, if the sources are to be believed. Taking place on 21-22 March, Germany might have to wait another two months before delivering the 5G era start in earnest.

According to Reuters, sources close to the German premier are suggesting a delay. It might be a play for time from Merkel, hoping for clarity from the highest bureaucratic office across the European lands. If politicians wait long enough, perhaps they can avoid making a decision altogether, and simply point critics towards orders from above.

While much attention has been paid to the Huawei predicament which is facing the UK Government, it can be easy to breeze past similar decisions which are being made elsewhere. Germany might not be facing the same external pressures as the UK currently, but there are certainly some very interesting storylines in play here.

First and foremost, you have to look at the competitive environment. Deutsche Telekom has been a customer of Huawei for years, as does Vodafone Germany and O2. A ban would impact the relationships already in place, not to mention the testing and validation work which has been conducted over the last few years.

Secondly, the political environment is quite interesting. Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in the country’s governing coalition, has been considering proposals to ban Huawei equipment from being used in telecommunications infrastructure. This is just one party, but it is an influential one.

Third, the T-Mobile US and Sprint merger has been a factor. The US Government has been casting an eye very broadly when looking at this merger, and the fact that the parent company of ones of the parties works closely with Huawei is not something which will get the White House enthused.

Finally, the automotive industry is incredibly important to the German economy and China is incredibly important to the German automotive industry. China is BMWs single largest export market, while Audi has a very prominent position in the premium-end of the Chinese market. Germany will not want to cause too much friction because of the automotive industry’s joy in China.

While a decision has to be made in Germany, there will be critics irrelevant. Merkel will almost certainly know she will be unpopular with some depending on which way the voices swing, but perhaps stalling to March can deflect some of the impending outcry.

In the near future, the UK will make a decision on Huawei. This could have some influence on other nations in the European bloc, but perhaps more importantly, the European Commission will table security guidelines for telecommunications infrastructure. The stronger the stance from the Brussels bureaucrats, the more easily Merkel can deflect any criticism.

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