The future of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the French 5G market has been seriously clouded: the national agency responsible for IT security has announced that it will severely restrict the operating authorizations of the French operators who are partners of the group , effectively compromising the latter's access to the French market.
Read also: 5G: “no total ban” of Huawei in France, according to Anssi
Huawei will not be subject to a " total ban " but the French operators using it will, at best, receive operating authorizations limited to eight years, according to the National Agency for Security of Computer Systems (Anssi) .
" What I can say is that there will not be a total ban. Operators who do not use Huawei, we encourage them not to go because it is a bit the natural sense of things. Those who already use it, we issue authorizations whose duration varies between three and eight years ", declared Guillaume Poupard, the director general of Anssi, charged by the government with examining this file, in a daily interview economic Les Echos.
" The decisions are ready, " said Poupard, confirming information from AFP on Tuesday that these decisions are just waiting to be signed by the executive.
Only three telecom equipment manufacturers, European Nokia and Ericsson and Chinese Huawei, are able to supply the equipment for the future 5G networks, the future mobile telecommunications system.
" There will be refusals, " said Poupard to Les Echos, however excluding that these refusals concern Nokia and Ericsson, and thus indicating in hollow that only Huawei is concerned.
These decisions, which go far beyond the simple industrial aspect, come against the background of persistent diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing: the United States is indeed pressuring its allies to ban Huawei for security reasons, citing its proximity to the Chinese government. The company has always denied these allegations.
Anyway, the issue is particularly important in France for operators SFR (Altice) and Bouygues Telecom who already use Huawei antennas in their 4G networks and want to rely on it to deploy 5G.
Operators want compensation
While Arcep, the telecoms regulator, has set auctions for the allocation of new frequencies in September and the first commercial offers could be available in France before the end of the year, the two operators are worried about having to change equipment manufacturers, or even dismantle their old equipment in the event of incompatibility.
They warned that they will ask for compensation if the state blocks the way for the Chinese group.
“ What we are doing on 5G in France is a compromise. We must develop 5G in economic conditions acceptable to telecoms operators and also sovereign, which allow us not to be dependent on this or that equipment or country, "tried to clear the director of Anssi.
" Many of the antennas installed are compatible with 5G, " he said in particular about the dissuasive nature of these restrictions, given the amount to be invested in operators.
" We are not in Huawei bashing, nor in anti-Chinese racism ," assured Mr. Poupard.
“ We are in risk management. Not all telecom equipment manufacturers are created equal. I am not quoting a name, but it is clear that we are not in the same risks when we speak of Chinese or American equipment. We are cautious with non-European equipment manufacturers, obviously, just as we would also be, for example, if all operators used the same equipment manufacturer, even if he was French - it would be catastrophic, "added Mr. Poupard.
“ This is the whole point of the discussion with telecom operators on the choice of their equipment manufacturers. It is not a process of intention that one makes to such company or such country. The question is just that of sovereignty, ”concluded Mr. Poupard.
Another unknown weighs on the deployment of this new technology: on June 21, the minister for ecological transition Elisabeth Borne announced that she had asked the Prime Minister to wait for the evaluation of the health effects of 5G by ANSES - hoped for the end of the first quarter 2021 - before deploying it.
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The Council of State, seized by associations worried about the potential harmful effects of 5G on health and the environment, must decide soon.