Germany prolongs banning Chinese 5G equipment

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Germany has announced plans to ban critical components made by Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks, citing security concerns. The decision – revealed by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Thursday – will be implemented in two phases starting in 2026, with a longer timeline than initially expected.

Under the new agreement, critical components from Huawei and ZTE will be barred from 5G core networks by the end of 2026, a year later than previously envisaged. For radio access networks (RAN), the deadline for removing Huawei components has been extended to the end of 2029—three years later than expected.

This extended timeline is seen as a compromise that satisfies German telecom operators, who were already in the process of upgrading these networks. The longer phase-out period is expected to limit extra costs for the operators.

The decision follows extensive negotiations with Germany’s major telecom operators: Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and Telefonica. Agreements are expected to be signed with all three companies, reflecting a collaborative approach to implementing these changes.

Faeser emphasised the careful examination of risks associated with critical components manufactured by Huawei and ZTE in German 5G networks. She stated that this decision aims to protect Germany’s economic interests and the communication of citizens, companies, and the state.

Germany’s move aligns with similar actions taken by other partners, including the US, UK, and Sweden. However, it comes amid criticism from the European Commission, which warned last year that national governments had been “too slow” in enforcing bans on Huawei and ZTE. The Commission noted that these Chinese vendors pose “materially higher risks than other 5G suppliers” for critical and sensitive parts of telecoms networks.

Currently, only 10 out of 21 EU countries that have adopted legislation allowing for such restrictions have actually imposed them. This slow progress has been a point of contention for both the EU and its US ally, especially as the bloc seeks to “de-risk” critical sectors and supply chains from overreliance on China.

The significance of this decision is underscored by a 2022 study from consultancy firm Strand Consult, which estimated that Chinese components accounted for 59 percent of Germany’s 5G setup. This high percentage highlights the substantial changes that will need to be made in the coming years.

As Europe’s largest economy, Germany’s stance on this issue has been closely watched. This decision marks a significant shift in the country’s approach to Chinese technology in critical infrastructure and may influence other European nations’ policies.

The phased implementation allows telecom operators time to adapt their networks and find alternative suppliers. However, it also signals a clear intent to reduce reliance on Chinese technology in crucial communications systems—albeit at a much slower pace than some allies would prefer.

See also: 5G and security: The dual telecoms challenges facing the new UK government

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Tags: 5G, ban, china, connectivity, cyber security, cybersecurity, eu, europe, germany, huawei, infrastructure, Networks, telecoms, zte


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