Germany launches 5G auction amid row with US over Huawei | Eurasia Diary -

26 June, Wednesday

Germany launches 5G auction amid row with US over Huawei

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Germany launches its auction Tuesday for the construction of an ultra-fast 5G mobile network as a transatlantic dispute rages over security concerns surrounding giant Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei.

The United States has warned it could scale back the sharing of sensitive information with Berlin if it does not exclude hardware made by Huawei from the infrastructure, arguing that Chinese equipment could help Beijing spy on Western companies and governments.

Attempting to play down the row on Monday, Jochen Homann, chairman of the German Federal Network Agency (BNA), said: "No matter whether a supplier comes from Sweden or China, companies must meet certification requirements and security checks."

'5G' -- 'fifth generation' -- is the latest, high-speed generation of cellular mobile communications and Berlin will require winning bidders to offer 5G service to at least 98 percent of German households and along motorways and rail lines.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy whose wireless networks, however, rank 46th in the world for download speeds, wants to close the sizeable digital gap by making the shift to the ultra-fast 5G system.

The BNA started the auction in Mainz at 0900 GMT on Tuesday and the process will allocate 41 different frequency blocks.

Four operators are in the running, among them Germany's three main mobile network providers -- Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Germany (O2) -- plus United Internet (1&1), a German company specializing in internet services.

Huawei is not one of the bidders but provides the four German companies with essential hardware such as antennas and routers.

The US has accused Beijing of using Huawei's 5G network gear as a Trojan horse, forcing operators to transmit data to the regime, but Washington has not provided evidence to support their suspicions.

Huawei has strenuously denied allegations its equipment could be used for espionage.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday lashed out at what he called "abnormal, immoral" attacks on Huawei and demanded a "fair and just competition environment" for Chinese firms.

US-led attempts to encourage other nations to ban Huawei equipment from their telecoms infrastructure suffered a setback when Chancellor Angela Merkel's government decided against imposing company specific-restrictions on the 5G auction.


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