Notable Voices Oppose Huawei Expansion in Europe

The debate over whether European nations should allow Huawei to help build 5G networks continues, with several key figures voicing strong objections that deserve to be heeded by policymakers across the continent.

Recent reports indicate that Germany has opened the door for Huawei to be a supplier for next-generation networks. There has been pushback against this announcement. A Newsweek opinion piece noted that Chancellor Merkel’s “decision to keep the door open for Huawei and ZTE to achieve even greater access to Germany’s network effectively ignores the concerns of her interior ministry, foreign ministry and intelligence services.”

Bruno Kahl, the president of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, underscored how Huawei is an extension of the Chinese government, stating that “The trust in a state company that has a very high level of dependence on the Communist Party and the country’s intelligence apparatus is not present.”  He also warned about potential backdoors in Huawei equipment, backdoors CTT previously documented.  Members of Germany’s Parliament echoed Kahl’s concerns. “[T]his is a company that is at the mercy of state interests and can, in doubt, not refuse government-led interference … Significant state influence is something that we cannot tolerate because it would mean that we don’t have that company but the state in our networks,” said Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmaker Norbert Röttgen.

Elsewhere in Europe, Norway recently dealt a blow to Huawei’s wishes to dominate the country’s 5G market. Its second largest mobile operator, Telia, just contracted with Ericsson to build a 5G network within four years and rip out Huawei equipment from its current 4G networks.

The screws continue to tighten on Huawei in the United States, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently rolling out a proposal that bans companies from using Universal Service Fund (USF) subsidies to buy equipment from companies designated as national security threats.  It also requires that telecom providers to rip out Huawei and ZTE equipment from networks.  Strand Consult recently documented how this can be accomplished at a reasonable cost.

There is nothing inevitable about Huawei’s penetration into western 5G markets, nor should there be.