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5G: towards an exclusion of Huawei in France within ten years?

France is said to have a plan to phase out Huawei from its future 5G network, by simply not renewing the authorizations granted to operators. These can last up to eight years, the exclusion of Huawei would therefore be effective at the end of the 2020 decade.

Emmanuel Macron said it in 2019, his Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire repeated it in 2020: there is no question of banning Huawei from the French 5G market. Maybe we should have added for the moment. Because according to the information obtained by Reuters, Paris would have the long-term intention to exclude the Chinese supplier of ultra-broadband mobile.

The news agency relies on three different sources to describe the French plan to do without the Chinese industrialist within ten years. ” France’s position is similar to UK’s, but government communication is different One of the sources explained, referring to London’s decision to completely ban Huawei from its 5G, with a deadline of 2027.

Several explanations can explain the reasons why Paris spreads exclusion over such a long period.

First, the authorizations granted for 5G equipment range from three to eight years – some equipment will therefore be in place until 2028. Second, it is also a means of protecting Bouygues Telecom and SFR, which, unlike Orange and Free Mobile, rely heavily on Huawei products. This leaves them time to switch to other suppliers, and European ones: Nokia and Ericsson.

Finally, it discreetly settles a file without attracting criticism from Huawei and the wrath of Beijing. At least on paper. The Chinese authorities, in particular via their embassy, ​​have repeatedly suggested that reprisals could take place if their telecoms champion was barred from access to the French market and, more generally, to Western markets. Nokia and Ericsson could be targeted.

Nokia 5G
Due to the mistrust that exists with regard to Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson have an unexpected avenue to sell their 5G equipment. // Source: Nokia

In the world, several Western nations have decided to do without the services of the Chinese company, even if it is indeed the most famous in the telecoms. This is the case of the United States and the United Kingdom, but also of Australia and New Zealand. The Canada could follow, all like Italy. The German posture will be known at the start of the school year.

A gradual elimination

In mid-July 2020, it was reported in the press that three operators – Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom – received their first approvals from Matignon and from the National Information Systems Security Agency. It was then reported that all OEMs, including Huawei, benefited from it. However, it seems clear that if France authorizes its presence today, this will no longer be the case tomorrow when the question of renewing these authorizations will arise.

Without renewal, this would therefore de facto exclude Huawei from 5G in France. In addition, still according to Reuters sources, the authorizations granted to operators are mostly short, from three to five years, when it comes to Huawei equipment intended for large cities, where those concerning equipment Nokia and Ericsson have a longer green light, eight years.

« The risk is not the same with European equipment manufacturers as with non-Europeans. We must not lie to each other », Declared at the beginning of July the head of the National Agency for the security of information systems, which has the task of piloting cyber defense in France. It also confirmed the government’s desire to greatly reduce the presence of the Chinese company, accused of serving as a Trojan horse to China for spy operations and cyberattacks.

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