Pompeo urges EU to exclude 'high-risk suppliers' from 5G networks

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged the European Union to exclude “high-risk” suppliers from all parts of 5G networks.

The EU on Wednesday followed Britain’s example, allowing members to decide what part China’s Huawei Technologies can play in its 5G telecoms networks and resisting pressure from Washington for an outright ban.

The United States wants the world to ban Huawei from the West’s next-generation 5G networks on fears that its gear could be used by China for spying, allegations which the company has strongly rejected.

EU countries can either restrict or exclude high-risk 5G vendors like Huawei from core parts of their telecoms networks, according to the new guidelines, which seek to address the cybersecurity risks to the bloc’s 28 countries at a national and EU level.

Pompeo praised the EU’s Network Information Security Cooperation Group recommended measures to mitigate security risks in 5G networks. The group acknowledged suppliers with high risk profiles should face additional restrictions, Pompeo said.

“It is misguided to think that the risks associated with installing equipment from suppliers subject to control by authoritarian regimes with a track record of malign cyber behavior can be mitigated,” Pompeo said.

Britain granted Huawei a limited role in its 5G mobile network on Tuesday, frustrating an attempt by the United States to exclude the Chinese telecoms giant from the West’s next-generation communications.

Huawei is the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, competing with Sweden’s Ericsson (ST:) and Finland’s Nokia (HE:).

The European Union sees 5G as key to boosting economic growth and competing with the United States and China, and its recommendations, agreed by EU members, are that individual countries assess the risks and decide whether to exclude suppliers from core infrastructure, confirming a Reuters report on Jan. 22.

Huawei welcomed the guidelines, describing them as non-biased and fact-based.

The commission said it was ready to bolster the bloc’s 5G cybersecurity by using trade defense tools against dumping or foreign subsidies.

Lobbying group ETNO, whose members include Deutsche Telekom (DE:), Orange (PA:) and Telefonica (MC:), which all use Huawei equipment, had warned against disproportionate actions which may affect their investments.

EU countries have until April to implement the guidelines and June to report on their progress.

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