GSMA has urged European governments to join mobile service providers in establishing a network testing regime to protect network security – in a step that will assist Huawei to come out of the security allegation and protect its business.
The development assumes significance because some of the allies of the United States – mainly in Europe — are in the process of blocking Huawei from supplying its 5G network to mobile operators.
Operators warn that such a step would disrupt the supply of equipment, increase costs to them and their customers, delay the rollout of next-generation 5G services by years, and potentially hobble existing networks, Reuters reported.
“Such significant consequences, intended or not, are entirely avoidable,” the GSMA said in a statement issued just over two weeks before it hosts its annual Mobile World Congress (MWC 2019) in Barcelona.
Telecom operator CEOs will be discussing the risks by blocking Huawei from supplying 5G mobile networks – at MWC. Several telecom operators have also come forward in support of Huawei, the top telecom network supplier from China. GSMA represents 800 telecom operators worldwide.
Some countries, especially ally of the United States, would want to block Huawei from their 5G roll outs. Australia, New Zealand and the UK expressed concerns about sourcing Huawei gear for their core networks.
Italy said it would not block Huawei. Germany said it would safeguard network without blocking Huawei.
GSMA will be assembling a task force of European mobile operators to identify ways to enhance existing testing regimes run by individual operators, by third-party laboratories or in partnership with 3GPP, the 5G standardization body.
GSMA recommended that governments and mobile operators work together to agree on an assurance and testing regime for Europe so that it ensures confidence in network security while maintaining competition in the supply of network equipment.
Huawei said: “We are committed to working globally with everyone involved in network security: partners, suppliers, regulators and governments, to find the best way to ensure the security, safety and privacy of data.”
The initiative parallels similar calls by Europe’s largest mobile operator, Deutsche Telekom, to strengthen Germany’s testing and compliance regime without having to resort to a blanket ban on Chinese vendors.
Deutsche Telekom said: “We welcome this move and think it’s good that the GSMA was able to find a common position.” Spain’s Telefonica said the GSMA’s stance fully reflected its own position.
GSMA estimates that mobile operators will invest between $300 billion and $500 billion by 2025 in the rollout of 5G services in Europe.
“As European policy makers consider ways to further secure network infrastructure, we urge them not to lose focus on all relevant policy objectives – security, competition, innovation and consumer impact,” GSMA said.