Telecoms industry calls for across Europe network testing regime

FRANKFURT: The telecoms industry has called on European governments to join mobile operators in establishing a testing regime to protect network security without having to resort to the disruptive step of excluding vendors from the market. The initiative by the GSMA, which represents 800 operators worldwide, comes as the United States steps up pressure on its allies to ban China’s Huawei Technologies on national security grounds. 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.
“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 in Barcelona. The industry fest, to be attended by more than 100,000 visitors, is also expected to feature a closed-doors discussion of telecoms CEOs of the risks to the industry that would arise if governments boycott Huawei, sources have said. The GSMA proposal marks the industry’s biggest attempt to avert more bans on Huawei, such as those introduced by the US and Australian governments, after Washington alleged its equipment could come with ‘back doors’ that could be used for cyber espionage. Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of telecoms network equipment with a market share of 28 per cent.
Washington has also argued that Chinese vendors are subject to a National Intelligence Law that requires the country’s organisations and citizens to collaborate in espionage efforts. The European Union is considering proposals that would amount to a de facto ban on Huawei, senior officials say, adding to mounting international pressure on the Shenzhen-based company. Huawei has denied the US claims, while European operators argue there is no evidence to suggest the Huawei equipment they use in their networks has ever been used for nefarious ends. The GSMA said it was assembling a task force of European operators to identify ways to enhance existing testing regimes run by individual operators, by third-party laboratories or in partnership with 3GPP, the 5G standardisation body. — Reuters