Deutsche Telekom and its competitors Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland use Huawei gear extensively and also dismiss the cyber claims as groundless.
“Deutsche Telekom takes the debate on the security of network equipment from Chinese providers very seriously,” the company said in a statement.
The state-owned Deutsche Telekom’s new proposal says that all critical infrastructure should be independently certified before deployment by an independent laboratory under state oversight.
The proposal said network equipment makers should submit the source code that runs their equipment to a trusted third party. Under certain circumstances, an operator would be able to gain access to address any security vulnerabilities.
The proposal from Deutsche Telekom said legal obligations and liability for the security of critical infrastructure should be broadened to cover network vendors in addition to mobile operators.
Huawei last November opened its information security lab in Bonn to allow greater scrutiny of its kit. Huawei today welcomed the Deutsche Telekom proposals and said it already cooperated broadly with Germany’s BSI cybersecurity watchdog, Reuters reported.
“It is up to policymakers, regulators and the industry to work out the details, but such an initiative makes a vital contribution to making the debate about 5G more fact based,” the Chinese company said in a statement.
While German officials also see no evidence of back doors, some are receptive to arguments that organizations and individuals are required, under China’s National Intelligence Law, to aid the state in intelligence work.
German mobile service providers — Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica — have applied to take part in a 5G spectrum auction to be held in March. Mobile operators there are pushing back hard against the political case for excluding Chinese vendors from selling 5G network equipment.
Deutsche Telekom has given the starkest warning, saying that if Huawei is not only barred from future work, but its kit must also be ripped out of existing 4G networks, 5G could be delayed by years.
That would leave Germany lagging its competitors in deploying latest applications such as connected factories in which robots and sensors could communicate directly with each other across campus networks.
Virtual operator 1&1 Drillisch, a unit of United Internet, has also applied to take part in the 5G spectrum auction and is talking to vendors including China’s ZTE about building and running its 5G network, sources say.