The Federal Ministry of the Interior apparently wants to oblige mobile network operators to remove critical components from Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei from their networks. According to information from government circles, a multi-stage process is planned: First, Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone must free their core networks, with which they ensure sufficient bandwidth and fast communication over long distances, of critical components from Chinese manufacturers. According to SZ information, there will be a deadline for this that will expire in 2025 at the earliest.
The ministry also wants to insist that the access networks, i.e. the “last mile” between the core network and customers, only consist of a quarter of Chinese components in the future, it is said. The network operators should have a longer period of up to four years. The details are still being worked on. Next week, the Interior Ministry will submit its final proposal to the Chancellery, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Transport and Digital.
Telekom had already decided in 2019 to remove Huawei technology from the core network
Although the Chancellery and the Foreign Office are said to be taking a hard line on the Huawei issue, it is unclear whether the Digital Ministry will follow the suggestion. Wissing’s ministry has advocated a more accommodating solution because it fears that the plans could slow down the rapid expansion of the modern 5G network and make it more expensive. First he had Mirror reported on corresponding plans by the Ministry of the Interior.
Deutsche Telekom had already decided in 2019 to remove Huawei technology from the core network, a company spokesman told SZ. However, a short-term reduction, as envisaged in the Interior Ministry’s plan, “would endanger mobile phone coverage and mobile phone expansion for years to come.” A study by the consulting firm Strand shows how great the dependency is: almost 60 percent of the German 5G network consists of Chinese technology.
Too much market dependence in the digital sector should be prevented
The background to the reduction plans is the concern that Chinese companies will be influenced by the local regime, which they deny. The Interior Ministry fears that Chinese high-tech companies could install backdoors at the direction of the state to sabotage IT and telephone networks. Too much market dependence, as was once the case with Russian gas, should be prevented in the digital sector.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for counterintelligence, has been publicly warning the ministries involved about security risks for years. It is said that the Chinese state obliges companies there to give it access to data upon request – even if there are no documented cases so far. In addition, companies like Huawei are under so much political pressure that they would have to withhold spare parts, for example, if Beijing demands this. But this is by no means clear to all decision-makers, complained Sinan Selen, Vice President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, in the spring. “I don’t feel like the crown jewels of our economy are being protected well enough.”
The Federal Intelligence Service also analyzed Huawei – and came to a clear conclusion. BND President Bruno Kahl then warned that the expansion of the 5G network was about the “core security interests” of the Federal Republic – this was “not a suitable object for a company that cannot be fully trusted”. This warning is from 2019.
The USA de facto excluded Huawei from network expansion in 2017 because they saw the threat of cyber espionage as a threat to national security. Other countries have since followed suit, including Great Britain, Sweden, Japan and Poland.