Germany says Huawei will get a fair crack at 5G

via Bundesnetzagentur

via Bundesnetzagentur

  • BNetzA consults on revised security requirements to protect networks, personal data
  • Government 'not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company'
  • One in the eye for US as its trade war with China weighs on global economic growth

Germany has left the door open for Huawei to bid for 5G network contracts, the latest sign that even US allies are disinclined to take heed of the Trump administration's bombast.

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) this week launched their long-awaited consultation on proposals to update minimum security requirements for companies that operate networks and handle personal data. Germany's position appears to be that as long as Huawei can meet those requirements, then there is no justification to banish it from the market.

"We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert, in a report by Reuters.

The draft revisions require telcos to obtain proof of their suppliers' trustworthiness, and avoid using only a single vendor's products in their networks. They must also ensure that only qualified personnel are used for security-sensitive tasks; that they have appropriate safety and security monitoring in place; that there are sufficient redundancies in the network; that network equipment is certified; and that product integrity is ensured.

Taking a multi-vendor approach was one of the major recommendations of the European Commission's report last week on securing 5G networks. Relying on a single supplier heightens the risk of outages, both accidental and deliberate, the Commission warned.

"The technical evolution of mobile networks means more speed, efficiency and effectiveness in economic and regulatory processes, more comfort and convenience in the home; but we will only succeed if we provide proper risk management right from the start," said BSI president Arne Schönbohm, in a statement this week.

The decision to not ban Huawei will be welcomed by German telcos. They had previously warned that preventing them from using the Chinese vendor's products would delay the rollout of 5G and add billions to the cost of deployment.

It will also go down as yet another foreign policy defeat for Trump, who has been lobbying allies to block Huawei. The US administration says its policy is all about making it harder for Communists to spy on people, whereas we all know that it's really about using Huawei as a pawn in Trump's ongoing trade war with China.

Speaking of which...

Such a drag

The aforementioned trade war is expected to reduce global economic growth to its lowest level since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, it emerged this week. Thanks, Donald.

According to the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) report, global growth is expected to come in at 3 percent. It represents a 0.3 percentage point downgrade from the IMF's last forecast, in April.

"Rising trade and geopolitical tensions have increased uncertainty about the future of the global trading system and international cooperation more generally, taking a toll on business confidence, investment decisions, and global trade," The IMF said.

In 2020, it expects improving economic performance in Latin America, the Middle East and emerging and developing Europe to drive growth to 3.4 percent. However, "with uncertainty about prospects for several of these countries, a projected slowdown in China and the United States, and prominent downside risks, a much more subdued pace of global activity could well materialise. To forestall such an outcome, policies should decisively aim at defusing trade tensions, reinvigorating multilateral cooperation, and providing timely support to economic activity where needed."

If it's two things a capital-intensive industry like telecoms doesn't need when it is in the midst of rolling out the next generation of mobile technology, it's uncertainty and subdued global activity.

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