Portugal paves the way to ban Huawei on the country’s 5G network

Portugal paves the way to ban Huawei on the country’s 5G network
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The Portuguese government has set the stage to ban Huawei equipment from the country’s 5G network in what would be a policy change that deals a heavy blow to the Chinese company’s ambitions in Europe.

A document from the Portuguese government’s cybersecurity council laid out the rationale for an eventual ban on some 5G equipment, including Huawei’s, by outlining a plan to restrict the use of equipment deemed “high risk,” industry officials said. telecommunications.

Governments around the world have used the term “high-risk supplier” to refer to Huawei when introducing restrictions on the use of the company’s equipment.

The question of whether or not to allow telecoms groups to use Huawei equipment in 5G infrastructure has become a major issue across Europe after Washington launched a push to get allied nations to ban the Chinese telecoms group on grounds of national security.

The UK, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have banned Huawei from building their 5G network. Earlier this year, Germany said it was reviewing the use of Chinese components in its 5G network and investigating whether a change to the law would be required.

But Portugal was one of a handful of countries in Europe that rejected US government lobbying. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, whose country has been one of the largest recipients of Chinese investment per capita, told the Financial Times in 2019 that Chinese companies had “showed full respect for our legal framework and market rules.”

The security move points to a significant change in Lisbon’s relatively benign relationship with Beijing. It flourished as economic ties between the countries have grown in the past decade, but it has grown more difficult as the United States pressures European allies to cool ties with China.

The cyber security council document, officially known as a “deliberation,” was posted on the government website on Thursday and signed by a senior national security official, António Gameiro Marques.

It outlines plans to exclude or apply restrictions on the use of equipment deemed high-risk on its 5G network, but has no immediate effect because it would have to be approved by the cabinet, which oversees the cybersecurity council.

The Portuguese government said that its evaluation may result in the exclusion, restriction or termination of the use of certain equipment and services, but noted that the result of its evaluation was still “classified.”

The three main mobile telecommunications groups in Portugal are Altice Portugal, Nos and Vodafone. Altice Portugal, the largest operator, signed an agreement with Huawei in 2018 to use the Chinese provider as part of its 5G rollout.

Huawei said in a statement that it was aware that the Portuguese government had published a statement on the security risk of telecommunications equipment and was in the process of gathering more information with the relevant authorities.

“Huawei has no prior knowledge and has not been consulted on this matter,” he said. “For the past two decades, Huawei has worked with Portuguese operators to develop wireless networks and provide quality services that connect millions of people. We will continue to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and we will serve Portuguese customers and partners who trust our products and services.”

In accordance with the Portuguese directive, the cyber security council carried out a detailed review of the equipment used in the country’s communication networks.

It determined that some 5G equipment had been considered high risk if, among other things, the company that produced it was linked to a government or legal system that had no legislation or diplomatic agreements with Portugal or the EU to protect data, cybersecurity, or property. intellectual or was recognized as responsible for hostile acts of espionage or sabotage against Portugal or its allies.

Altice Portugal and Vodafone did not respond to a request for comment.


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