Spanish operator Telefonica has confirmed it will use Huawei equipment in the core layer of its 5G network but will adopt a multi-vendor strategy.
The US has banned Huawei from its 5G rollout on national security grounds and is urging its allies to follow suit. Huawei has repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing, while Washington has not provided any evidence to support its claims.
Huawei is a major supplier for many European networks and US pressure has been greeted with a lukewarm response from governments and operators who fear innovation would decrease and costs rise should any ban be imposed.
Some are opting to ban Huawei from the core layer of 5G networks, where data is processed, but allow it to participate in the radio layer. This is speculated to be the UK’s official position should a final decision ever be made.
Telefonica causes Huawei kit in its 2G and 4G cores and now plans to do the same with 5G. It has confirmed however that it will seek a second provider. No decision has been made about radio equipment.
Most mobile operators are adopting a multi-vendor approach because it improves the resilience of the network. For example, if an operator used a single provider for the core, transport and radio layers of its infrastructure then it would be far easier for an attacker to wreak havoc. Indeed, for this reason, Germany has urged its operators to avoid “monocultures” in their 5G networks.
Portugal too, has now neglected to impose any restrictions on Huawei. According to reports, Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos has told the US Secretary of State that the country would decide on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. This decision paves the way for commercial 5G services to go live next year, with operator Altice already partnering with Huawei.