How Belgium vibrates for 5G

How Belgium vibrates for 5G

Belgium on 5G has adhered to the European Commission guidelines on 5G safety, which define "high-risk vendors" as those producers who could be "subject to interference from a non-EU country"

It was a black week for Huawei.

After the Pentagon's decision to put the Chinese manufacturer on a blacklist of entities linked to the People's Liberation Army, and that of the Singapore government to exclude it from the island's 5G cake, now comes the Trump's move by Belgium to severely limit the use of key parts of the 5G network procured from "high risk" suppliers.

The decision, which follows the one taken by the British government in January (which nevertheless infuriated the Americans), comes from the National Security Council of Belgium, and seems to at least partially take note of US concerns.

The decision of the Council provides that no producer considered to be at high risk will be able to put his hand, supplying his equipment, in the "core" part and in the "backbone" of the network, considered to be the most strategic and therefore deserving of maximum protection.

However, these are not the only restrictions laid down by the Council. The same high-risk entities will only be present with their equipment in the radio access part of the network to an extent of 35%.

Finally, the Belgian security services will define a series of geographical areas and "sensitive sites" where the presence of the equipment of the producers in question may be further limited. This decision will be very pleasing to the Americans, since NATO commands are also located in Belgium.

The indications of the Council – a copy of which ended up in the Politico editorial office – do not mention names, therefore they do not make explicit who is considered a high risk producer. It simply states that it has adhered to the European Commission guidelines on 5G security, which define as "high-risk vendors" those producers who could be "subject to interference from a non-EU country" or which does not respect democratic standards – all characteristics that perfectly fit Huawei and the other black beast of the USA, Zte.

For the telcos that were about to leave with their 5G projects, the Security Council decision equates to the biggest headache.

As Politico points out , practically all telecommunication networks in Belgium, with particular regard to base stations and antennas, are Chinese-made. For the realization of the 4G, both the public operator Proximus and the local subsidiary of the French Orange had entered into agreements with Huawei, and a third operator, Telenet, had entrusted Zte.

The Council's decision therefore means that the telcos will now have to reformulate their plans heavily by renouncing two partners such as Huawei and Zte which have been indispensable for years and most likely relying on the competition considered reliable by the USA – names of the caliber therefore of Ericssnn or Nokia.

It was no coincidence that the joy of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – the main nemesis of the Chinese and Huawei in particular – was great at the news that rained from Belgium.

"The time has finally come (to build) secure 5G networks," Pompeo said, adding that "Huawei's agreements with operators around the world are evaporating because countries only want reliable manufacturers in their 5G networks."

In any case, it remains to be seen how the US war against Huawei will proceed, considering on the one hand the steps taken recently by the Trump administration – the latest in the series, the decision of the Department of Commerce that makes cooperation between tech companies possible again USA and Huawei in setting standards for 5G – and on the other the worsening of the trilateral crisis between the US, China and Canada over the extradition of ex-CFO of Huawei Meng Wanzhou currently detained in Vancouver at the request of US justice.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Sat, 27 Jun 2020 06:26:59 +0000.