Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen
Germany is even more dependent on Huawei to equip its 5G cellphone network than it is for its 4G network, despite growing concerns about Chinese involvement in critical infrastructure.
This is shown by a report by the telecommunications consultancy Strand Consult.
Accordingly, Huawei is responsible for 59 percent of the 5G network in Germany, i.e. for the base stations and the associated infrastructure that connect smartphones to the network.
With the older and less powerful 4G network, the value is 57 percent.
Many European countries have banned Chinese companies in whole or in part from their 5G networks over concerns that the Chinese company could steal data or otherwise damage the telecommunications infrastructure.
The US is exerting intense diplomatic pressure in this direction.
The Strand Consult study, due to be released next week and seen by Reuters news agency, provides an overview of the role of Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in the rollout of next-generation mobile networks across Europe.
She emphasizes how large and persistent Germany's dependence on its most important trading partner is.
"There are signs that Germany is not taking the security threat posed by China seriously," says the study.
Comparisons are drawn with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which opponents have long criticized as a security risk, but which Berlin pushed further.
Huawei thinks the US ban is protectionism
Huawei has repeatedly denied that its devices pose a security risk and has accused Washington of wanting to protect US companies that cannot compete with Chinese technology and prices.
Huawei has not yet commented on the study report.
The Federal Network Agency referred to Reuters a regulation that provides for a differentiated treatment of core and RAN components.
The percentage from the study refers to the RAN components, the abbreviation RAN stands for Radio Access Network.
Particularly sensitive data is processed in the core components, and the legal hurdles before a provider can deliver are particularly high here.
However, critics point out that both areas are so closely intertwined that the use of Huawei devices poses a risk in both cases.
Jens Zimmermann, digital policy spokesman for the SPD, accuses the network operators of adhering to the minimum requirements of the new law, but not to its spirit: "If this attitude continues, we have to tighten the legal framework."
Huawei has more market share in Berlin than in Beijing
The Strand report shows that while Germany is not the only country that is increasingly deploying Chinese-made RAN devices in its 5G network, many small European countries, particularly the Nordic and Eastern countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Slovakia, don't use any.
In some of these countries, author John Strand told Reuters, the operators themselves have opted for non-Chinese providers to accommodate suspicious corporate customers who fear industrial espionage.
However, Huawei has a higher market share in Berlin than in Beijing, where the company faces tough competition from local competitor ZTE.
A strategy paper by the German Ministry of Economics recommends increased testing of components from authoritarian states in critical infrastructures.
"We need a general review of commercial cooperation with companies from autocratic states," says Green MP Konstantin von Notz, chairman of the parliamentary committee that oversees the intelligence services.
It's about Germany's sovereignty "over against countries like Russia and China," he said.