Tuesday, 04 August 2020

France on Huawei: "There won’t be a total ban"

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 07 July 20

As the UK teeters on the brink of phasing Huawei completely out of the nation’s 5G networks, France says it will not ban the Chinese vendor

In the past few months, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for Chinese mobile vendor Huawei. Sanctions against the company by the US have steadily increased, with the May seeing the closure of a major trade loophole, effectively banning them from working with part of their supply chain…

In the past few months, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for Chinese mobile vendor Huawei. Sanctions against the company by the US have steadily increased, with the May seeing the closure of a major trade loophole, effectively banning them from working with part of their supply chain. This, in turn, has had a major knock-on effect for the UK – now that Huawei may be forced to use new and unknown suppliers, their security risk has gone up, according to government officials. Rumours suggest the UK could be looking to phase out Huawei equipment completely, perhaps over a very short timeline.
 
France, however, seems more measured in its response to this development.
 
Speaking to Les Echos, French Director General Guillaume Poupard said that there would not be a “total ban” on telcos working with Huawei.
 
“What I can say is that there won’t be a total ban,” said Poupard. “For operators that are not currently using Huawei, we are inciting them not to go for it. For those that are already using Huawei, we are delivering authorisations for durations that vary between three and eight years.” 
 
For two of France’s major telcos, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, this is welcome news; both telcos currently rely on Huawei for around half of their network infrastructure. Others, such as Orange, will be less concerned, having chosen a combination of Ericsson and Nokia to deploy their French 5G network back in January.
 
Huawei, who continue to deny that they are a security risk, will surely also be relieved by the news. But, as Poupard makes clear, his statement is far from a defence of the company and, even if the vendors immediate future within France seems secure, its long term position could be at risk. Much can change in the three-to-eight year period suggested by Poupard, but if the geopolitical storm continues to flare – particularly if it sees Huawei phased out of the UK – Huawei’s future in France seems to troubled.
 
 
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