Exclusion of 5G components from certain manufacturers is possible

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5G lettering at a mobile phone fair

The next generation mobile network is the central critical infrastructure for future technology.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin The Federal Government reserves the right to exclude components from certain manufacturers from particularly security-relevant parts of the 5G network. This emerges from a joint report by the Ministry of Economy, Transport, Home Affairs and the Federal Foreign Office on the status of 5G expansion, which is available to the Handelsblatt.

The next-generation mobile network is a “central critical infrastructure for future technology” and, as the stages of expansion progress, become more and more a cornerstone of the networked economy and society, it says. “In view of the importance of 5G, the technology used in the upcoming network expansion must meet the highest security standards.”

The basic exclusion of Chinese network suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE, which the USA has requested, is still not planned. The Federal Government emphasizes that it can “significantly” increase the security of the communication networks “without excluding specific manufacturers of network components from 5G network expansion in advance”.

However, the federal government wants to question the “controllability” of critical components, which can be seen as a concession to the Huawei critics in the government factions. “If such controllability cannot be ensured in parts of a network infrastructure that require high protection, the options for excluding specific components (possibly a specific manufacturer) must be examined,” write the ministries.

However, the wording is vague, “controllability” is not further defined. The ministries only indicate that “global networking of supply chains” and “digital sovereignty of Germany” also play a role.

“It remains completely unclear who and based on which criteria decides on controllability,” criticizes Falko Mohrs, 5G rapporteur of the SPD parliamentary group. “We need a political assessment of the risks of manufacturers,” says Mohrs, “a purely technical process is not enough”.

Unlike the Union, the SPD has spoken out in favor of security criteria that Chinese network equipment suppliers cannot meet due to the lack of the rule of law in the People’s Republic. The CDU is divided on the Huawei question. The group, world market leader at 5G, is accused of working closely with the Chinese security apparatus.

Different positions

Dealing with Huawei is also controversial within the federal government. The Federal Foreign Office would welcome a de facto exclusion, the Union-led departments for economy and home affairs and the Chancellery strongly reject it. They fear delays in network expansion and a strain on relations with China.

Because of the Corona crisis, the Huawei debate had been silent for weeks. But since Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have announced that they will intensify their cooperation with Huawei despite the political concerns, the discussion has started again.

On Tuesday, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier and Secretary of State Günther Krings will inform the Union faction about the status of 5G legislation. The government document states: “Corresponding coordination between the departments is still ongoing.”

The initiation of the legislative procedure is aimed for “promptly”. The government had already expressed a similar view at the end of last year.

More: Deutsche Telekom relies on Huawei and thereby provokes a dispute with Berlin.

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