Recently, there has been a global crackdown on Chinese technology companies due to concerns about their potential involvement in suspicious activities. The latest country to join the movement is Germany, whose Interior Ministry has announced plans to ban parts made by two Chinese tech giants, Huawei and ZTE.
The Ban Will Include Existing Telcos Tech
What sets this 5G ban apart is that it extends to components that are built into networks, which means that network operators in Germany may be required to replace the affected parts. This shift could result in significant expenses for these companies, as they will have to bear the cost of replacements without compensation.
This move by Germany is part of a larger trend of governments worldwide taking a closer look at the role of Chinese technology in their critical infrastructure. The concerns are particularly acute regarding 5G networks, which are seen as the future of communications given their remarkable speed and low latency.
It is essential to note that while the ban on Huawei and ZTE parts has yet to be issued in Germany, the Interior Ministry has confirmed that it is part of a wider review of the country’s relationship with China. According to a spokesperson, the major change is that there will now be stricter checks for potential security threats, including on the part of the operators themselves.
Huawei is one of the five Chinese companies on the FCC’s list of companies deemed to pose a huge risk to national security in the United States. This list includes companies linked to the Chinese government and whose technology is seen as potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks or espionage.
In many countries, Huawei has already been banned, partially or fully. For example, Britain and Sweden have banned the company from supplying 5G equipment ad are actively sourcing new suppliers.
The Shift Will be Difficult
The possibility of Germany cutting off ties with Chinese vendors comes with little surprise, given the country’s recent comments on the need to become more independent from China. However, this will likely take work, as Germany’s 5G ambitions increasingly rely on Chinese technology.
According to a survey by Strand Consult, a telecoms consultancy firm, Huawei accounts for over 59% of Germany’s 5G RAN (radio access network) equipment. While this is lower than the company’s 4G coverage of 57%, it still represents a significant market share.
According to John Strand, the founder of Strand Consultancy, it is paramount for countries to move quickly in replacing their network components. He believes it is more dangerous to depend on Chinese telecoms infrastructure than to be dependent on Russian oil.
Strand highlights the need to protect national security and citizens’ data, which could be at risk if countries continue to rely on Chinese technology. According to an article on lightreading.com, the current geopolitical tensions mean that Germany does not have the luxury of giving telecom operators a long period to change their infrastructure.
As a result, the country will likely look for ways to hasten the process and accelerate the transition to new technology. For Huawei, an eviction from one of the largest economies in Europe would be a significant blow. However, Nokia and Samsung are prime to fill the gap in 5G technology.