Portugal moves closer to banning Huawei and ZTE from 5G

The Cybersecurity Council of Portugal (CSSC) has issued a resolution that may officially prohibit telecom operators from utilizing equipment from Huawei and ZTE in their 5G mobile networks, as well as the 4G platforms.
Huawei and ZTE in IndiaThe CSSC serves as the consultative body for the Prime Minister and its document, released on May 23, deals a further blow to the attempts made by Chinese tech giant Huawei to penetrate the Portuguese 5G market and potentially extend their existing contracts, Reuters news report said.

According to a law passed last August, the government possesses the authority to determine the “exclusion, restrictions on use, or the cessation of use of equipment or services” by telecom companies, while establishing conditions and deadlines for operators to comply.

Portugal’s major operators, Altice, NOS, and Vodafone, have already made it clear that they will not employ Huawei’s equipment in their 5G core networks. These decisions align with concerns shared by European and U.S. authorities regarding Chinese involvement in critical infrastructure, which could compromise security. However, Beijing and Huawei refute such allegations.

It is worth noting that Portugal’s current 5G networks are not standalone and still heavily rely on 4G technology and equipment.

In its statement, the CSSC did not explicitly mention China or any Chinese suppliers but cautioned against the “high risk” to security posed by suppliers or providers headquartered in countries where the government exercises control, interference, or pressure on their activities in third countries. The council’s opinion is based on an undisclosed report that evaluated the safety of equipment used in public electronic communications networks involving 5G technology.

The CSSC’s document also highlights security risks when a supplier’s home country lacks agreements on data protection, cybersecurity, or protection of intellectual property with Portugal or the European Union. Furthermore, it raises concerns when the supplier’s country is not a member of the EU, NATO, or OECD.

In response to the resolution, Huawei stated that it had no prior knowledge of the document and was not consulted about the matter. The company expressed its intention to gather more information about the assessment and hoped to continue serving its Portuguese clients.

Europe has become a focal point in the technology rivalry between Beijing and Washington. If the Chinese company is excluded, Huawei’s European competitors, Ericsson and Nokia, could potentially establish a supplier duopoly.