Mobile network provider Telefonica Deutschland picked Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei to build its 5G network in Germany, the company announced Wednesday.
Huawei is a global leader in constructing equipment and infrastructure for ultra-high-speed 5G data networks. However, there are concerns, led by the US, that Huawei poses a security threat and should be excluded from critical network infrastructure.
Telefonica Deutschland, which operates under the O2 brand, is one of only a few European operators to use Huawei as a 5G supplier. The company called Nokia and Huawei “proven strategic partners” on 5G infrastructure.
The company said its cooperation with Huawei and Nokia on 5G is contingent on the technology and companies passing a security certification according to German law.
Telefonica has said it wants to move faster on bringing 5G networks to Germany, as the German government works to finalize rules governing network suppliers.
Nokia and Huawei will split building O2’s 5G radio network in Germany equally between them.
In a press release, Telefonica Deutschland said work should start at the beginning of 2020. The company said it expects to have 5G up and running in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt by the end of 2021.
According to the European Union, Huawei “enjoys significant market penetration” in the EU on account of its “competitive prices and supposedly better quality.”
The US has claimed that China could use Huawei’s 5G networks as a Trojan horse for espionage, transmitting corporate, government or military secrets transmit data to authorities in Beijing. Washington has repeatedly called on European countries to exclude Huawei in building 5G networks.
In a 2019 study, the European Commission identified ensuring the cybersecurity of 5G networks as an “issue of strategic importance” for the EU.
In November, the chairman of Telefonica Deutschland, Markus Haas, said Germany is lagging behind the world on 5G technology and that there were many “fact-free discussions” over the use of Huawei technology.
In June, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier met with Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei, and emphasized that “the safety of telecommunications in Germany, the protection of citizens’ data and the certainty of German law being adhered to,” were key elements for permitting Huawei to build German networks.
The decisions would be taken on the basis of “clear security criteria through the certification of hardware and software,” said Altmaier.