Germany set to follow UK on Huawei conundrum – report

German flag woman happy at Berlin Brandenburg Gate

Huawei looks to have survived another European scare as Germany closes in on a deal which would offer the company restricted freedoms, similar to the position of the UK.

According to reports in Reuters, the leading political parties in Germany are set to agree on a strategy paper which would allow Huawei a restricted role to participate in the deployment of 5G networks. It might be considered a bit of a snub to the US, but like the UK this would appear to be a pragmatic approach to delivering the next generation of connectivity.

“State actors with sufficient resources can infiltrate the network of any equipment maker,” the agreement states. “Even with comprehensive technical checks, security risks cannot be eliminated completely – they can at best be minimized.

“At the same time, we are not defenceless against attempts to eavesdrop on 5G networks. The use of strong cryptography and end-to-end encryption can secure confidentiality in communication and the exchange of data.”

Although this is not a confirmed position yet, it is believed the new position will be voted in later today (February 11). There are still aggressors who are pursuing an all-out ban, namely the Social Democratic party, a junior coalition partner to the Christian Democratic party, though it appear Huawei will survive, albeit in a limited function.

The paper would outline a similar approach to managing Huawei as the UK has taken. As you can see from the statement above, the German authorities seem to be taking the approach that as it is impossible to guarantee 100% safety, irrelevant of the equipment manufacturer, it is not logical to target one specific company.

The paper apparently states the network would be split into the three different components (radio, transmission and core), and different procedures for handling Huawei equipment dependent on its designation. This is a risk-management approach, similar to the one taken in the UK.

The issue which the Germans are facing is also similar; German telcos are all existing customers of Huawei and have signed agreements to work with Huawei going forward. Should a ban be implemented, not only would this create a problem in terms of time (negotiating new commercial agreements, testing equipment etc.) but there might also have to be expense incurred as ‘rip and replace’ projects are kicked off to ensure backwards compatibility.

In the UK, BT has said it will cost £500 million to become compliant with the Huawei restrictions in the RAN. This might sound like a significant investment, but it would have been considerably worse if a complete ban had been introduced.

Other elements of the strategy which could impact the telcos are potential demands to enforce a multi-vendor supply chain, and security checks on equipment which all vendors would have to adhere to. This is an idea which has been raised in the past, paying homage to the complexity and variety of supply chains nowadays; as 100% security cannot be guaranteed by everyone, every vendor would be forced to demonstrate security credibility.

It is not yet guaranteed that Germany will take this approach, but it does appear the German Government will try to mitigate risk and compensate for the current status quo.

Despite all the lobbying and threats which have been passed across the Atlantic from the White House, it does appear US delegates were unable to present evidence of a ‘smoking gun’ which would have turned European governments against Huawei and other Chinese vendors. This is a win for the US, it has demonstrated it has influence over Europe after all, but its ability to dictate policy is becoming weaker.

One question which does remain is the impact this will have on the German-US relationship. President Trump has not been on the greatest of terms with Merkel over the years and considering the influence Germany has on the European Union bureaucracy, the White House find itself more irritable.

On the other side of the coin is the relationship between Germany and China. China is an important trade partner of Germany, especially the automotive industry which has such a powerful lobby in the country. Irritating this relationship with the Chinese would not be something many would want, and it does appear a snub to the US is tolerable.

While the UK and Germany are only two nations, it does appear the US is losing the political influence game in Europe. Other European countries pay attention to the opinions and actions of these Governments, and it might be a case of the first dominoes to fall, especially with the likes of France and Italy also leaning towards a Huawei-friendly environment

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  1. Avatar Amir 12/02/2020 @ 11:24 am

    it’s Always good for customers sellers share the market. To balance and reduce prices esp one greedy seller like Intel when AMD came and with its cheap & good cpus break the prices . Think that only cpu maker was Intel , u should sell your house to buy series of Intel cpus from 486 to pentium.

  2. Avatar Boogieman 12/02/2020 @ 2:29 pm

    Time to ban Germany together with China and UK from IT related deals then.
    Germany next out of EU, but this time kicked out?
    Merkel obviously has ZERO clue what 5G will bring or else she would not follow the country she just allowed going out of the door

    • Avatar yoyo 13/02/2020 @ 4:57 am

      ∆ your fears are Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction
      ∆ why can’t Trump be Original ?

    • Avatar Chineseman 13/02/2020 @ 5:06 am

      I totally agree with you, even the whole Germany government and security experts’ knowledge combined, compare to your vast and deep wisdom, is absolutely ZERO.
      I also agree with you that a completely ban German UK and along with whole Europe and whole Asian and the Rest world, that would à fantastic move to make America great again.

      I would definitely vote for you to be the next US state secretary or even president, just too bad I can’t vote since I am a Chinese, but I think Russian probably can help you.

  3. Avatar Solomon 13/02/2020 @ 12:37 am

    Under not so smart Trump, the US is losing its geopolitical and trade influence as the rest of the world do not trust them due to their bullying tactics. Soon, China and Russia will gain influence which will signal the demise of the US currency and trade and the downfall of the US economy.

    • Avatar JN 13/02/2020 @ 3:20 pm

      You prediction is hardly Solomonic!

  4. Avatar yoyo 13/02/2020 @ 5:00 am

    Farenheit 911 – they blew up the WTC to have a reason to hang Saddam

  5. Avatar fons 13/02/2020 @ 11:13 am

    If all network Equipment providers would be examined with the same scrutiny we would not be allowed any network anymore and WWW would collapse. Mr Trump trading war seems not to work as he expected, next we will see extra import taxes for goods produced in Europe as he is a tiran

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