France likely to allow Huawei in non-core parts of 5G networks: Report


France’s cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, is expected to allow local operators to use equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei for the deployment of 5G networks in the country, Reuters reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The sources said ANSSI had decided to approve the use of Huawei equipment, but only for non-core parts of 5G networks, which pose less risks in terms of security.

“They don’t want to ban Huawei, but the principle is: ‘Get them out of the core mobile network’,” Reuters quoted one of the sources as saying.

According to the report, local telcos Bouygues Telecom and Altice Europe’s SFR are using equipment of Huawei in their networks. Meanwhile, Orange has selected European vendors Nokia and Ericsson for the deployment of its 5G network infrastructure.

This strategy to be adopted by the French government would be in line with the U.K.’s similar decision at the start of this year.

In January, the U.K. government decided to allow Chinese vendor Huawei to continue providing equipment to local 5G networks but with certain restrictions. The Chinese vendor was to be banned from supplying kit to sensitive “core” parts of 5G networks; it will be limited to a minority presence of no more than 35% in the 5G radio access network.

The U.K. government also said that high-risk vendors will be excluded from sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases. UK officials said that they would seek to legislate at the earliest opportunity to put in place the powers necessary to implement the new telecoms security framework.

Local carriers Vodafone and BT are already using Huawei’s equipment in their 5G networks.

European governments have been facing pressure from the U.S. government to block the Chinese vendor over security allegations as Washington considers that Beijing uses Huawei for spying purposes.

U.S. officials have warned European governments that allowing Huawei in 5G networks could affect intelligence sharing may be affected.

Also in January, the European Commission (EC) announced a joint “toolbox” of mitigating measures agreed upon by EU member states to address security risks related to the rollout of 5G technology.

Through the toolbox, the member states are committing to move forward in a joint manner based on an objective assessment of identified risks and proportionate mitigating measures.

The EC said that the toolbox addresses all risks identified in the EU coordinated assessment, including risks related to non-technical factors, such as the risk of interference from non-EU state or state-backed actors through the 5G supply chain.

In the toolbox conclusions, member states agreed to strengthen security requirements, to assess the risk profiles of suppliers, to apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high-risk, including necessary exclusions for key assets considered as critical and sensitive (such as the core network functions), and to have strategies in place to ensure the diversification of vendors.


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