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European countries keen to embrace Chinese 5G tech

(People's Daily Online)    09:34, March 11, 2020

Chinese tech giant Huawei inked 91 commercial 5G contracts and shipped over 600,000 5G Massive MIMO Active Antenna Units (AAUs) by Feb. 20, with more than half of the contracts coming from Europe, according to the company’s latest data.

Huawei's flagship store in Paris. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

Huawei has reached initial agreements on deployment of 5G networks with a number of European countries, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Norway.

On March 5, Huawei’s first flagship store in France opened in Paris, marking the company’s fourth opening of a flagship store in Europe.

The tech giant announced this February that it will build a wireless communications product factory in France, which will specialize in 4G and 5G equipment and mainly serve European markets. The factory has a planned investment of about 200 million euros (about $228 million), and is expected to see its annual output value reach 1 billion euros.

The establishment of Huawei’s new factory in France shows that European countries are adopting an open and cooperative attitude toward Huawei, said Frederic Baldan, CEO of Belgian consulting company CEBiz.

Last May, British telecom operator EE launched 5G services in six major cities in the UK, and the company reaffirmed that Huawei will continue to supply its 5G radio network infrastructure, adding that Huawei remains a valued and innovative supplier.

Last June, multinational telecom operator Vodafone formally launched Spain’s first commercial 5G mobile network, covering 15 cities in the country. Huawei, which has enjoyed a cooperative relationship with Vodafone for more than 10 years, supplied the core equipment for the network.

According to The Brussels Times, an English news website and magazine in Belgium, Huawei and Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE have been operating in Belgium for many years, earning the trust of local partners.

Belgian telecom provider Telenet is collaborating with ZTE, while Proximus, the largest telecommunication company in Belgium, has already been working with Huawei for some time now, The Brussels Times said.

The reason why so many European telecom operators are keen to cooperate with Huawei is that the company has world-leading technologies and offers them at reasonable prices, Baldan told People’s Daily.

The telecommunications market is also a market, said Baldan, explaining that European telecom operators choose cooperative partners based on market considerations, rather than political factors.

Europe values the free market and fair competition, Baldan said, stressing that market behavior should be determined by the market, as political interference will only promote backwardness and indulge monopolism, which go against Europe’s innovation and development efforts.

Recently, the European Union (EU) issued non-binding guidelines on 5G security. Although the document suggested restrictions on suppliers considered as being high risk, it showed that US’ attempts to pressure European countries into banning Huawei’s equipment and products for its 5G networks have not been welcomed, according to European media and experts.

Member states can decide on their own whether to restrict or ban “high-risk” suppliers from core parts of their telecoms networks, according to the EU guidelines.

Non-EU providers are welcome in Europe as long as they comply with EU rules, noted Thierry Breton, European commissioner for Internal Market, at a news conference, adding, “We are not picking on anybody, we are not ostracizing firms.”

Leaders of European countries including Germany, France, and the UK have said that they will not exclude Huawei from suppliers of equipment for 5G networks.

Germany will not simply exclude one company or one actor from its 5G construction, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a conference in Berlin.

“I'm against taking a product off the market just because there’s a possibility that something might happen,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer recently said during an interview.

“I don’t think we can quickly build a 5G network in Germany without Huawei taking part,” Seehofer said, warning that “generally excluding the Chinese company could delay the rollout of the network by five to 10 years.”

Huawei will not be excluded from 5G in France, French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said recently.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also reiterated that on the 5G issue, France will not adopt discriminatory measures against any specific nation or company and stands ready to maintain communication with the Chinese side.

The UK government said this January that it will allow Huawei to contribute to the construction of the non-core parts of its 5G infrastructure, with a cap of 35 percent on Huawei’s share of the market, in an effort to help “diversify” the market. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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