Germany Plans to Reduce Use of Huawei and ZTE Equipment in 5G Networks

Germany’s interior ministry is set to enforce regulations that will require telecoms operators to significantly reduce their use of equipment from Huawei and ZTE in their 5G networks. A review indicated that there is an excessive reliance on these Chinese suppliers, prompting the government to take action.

To minimize disruption, the ministry has devised a phased approach. By 2026, telecom operators such as Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone will be required to remove all critical components from Chinese vendors in their 5G core networks. Furthermore, they must reduce the share of Chinese components in their RAN and transport networks to a maximum of 25% by October 1, 2026.

According to a survey conducted by telecommunications consultancy Strand Consult, Huawei currently accounts for 59% of Germany’s 5G RAN networks. In particularly sensitive regions like Berlin, where the federal government is located, Chinese technology should not be used at all.

The interior ministry plans to present its approach to the cabinet next week. However, it may face opposition from the ministry for digital affairs, as concerns have been raised about potential implications for Germany’s already slow progress in digitalization.

Germany has been criticized for lagging behind in the implementation of the European Union’s security measures for 5G networks. These measures, established three years ago, aim to limit the use of vendors deemed “high risk,” including Huawei and ZTE, due to concerns about possible sabotage or espionage. Both companies deny that their equipment poses any security risks.

Last week, the government stated in response to a parliamentary inquiry that it has not yet prohibited the use of new Chinese critical components in their 5G networks. However, there is growing dissatisfaction with the continued use of Huawei components.

Germany’s reliance on Huawei has faced public scrutiny in recent years, given the government’s tougher stance on China and efforts to reduce dependence on specific countries, especially in light of the energy crisis triggered by Germany’s reliance on Russian gas.

The interior ministry has recognized the “urgent need” to take action and prevent a situation similar to the Nord Stream issue, referring to pipelines originally intended to supply affordable Russian gas to Germany but are no longer in use.

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