Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy, says minister

5G testing spot provided by China Telecom is seen in Chengdu downtown. Italy’s Telecom Italia is in the process of choosing suppliers and Huawei is among possible contenders. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 December 2019

Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy, says minister

  • Stefano Patuanelli’s remarks follow parliamentary committee’s move to block the company

ROME: Chinese telecoms firm Huawei should be allowed a role in Italy’s future 5G network, the Italian industry minister said on Sunday after an influential parliamentary committee called on Rome to block the company.

The US has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using Huawei equipment in their next generation networks and to closely scrutinize rival ZTE, saying the companies could pose a security risk.

“We have passed legislation that guarantees national security. With the right defenses, the possibility of (Huawei’s) access is not up for debate,” Minister Stefano Patuanelli, part of the ruling 5-Star Movement, told La Stampa daily.

Last week, Italy’s parliamentary security committee Copasir said the government should consider preventing Huawei and ZTE from taking part in the development of 5G networks.

Italy’s biggest phone group Telecom Italia (TIM) is in the process of choosing suppliers to upgrade its network infrastructure and Huawei is among possible contenders.

Cabinet undersecretary Riccardo Fraccaro, also a 5-Star member, said on Friday that the government would not be able to ignore the opinion of Copasir. But Patuanelli said on Sunday that “Huawei offers the best solutions at the best prices.”

“One cannot fly the flag of the market with one hand and that of protectionism with the other,” he added. 

Huawei rejects the allegations that it poses a security threat. 

Last week, Telenor said it will use equipment from Huawei in building Norway’s 5G network.

State-controlled Telenor picked Sweden’s Ericsson to help roll out its fifth-generation (5G) telecoms network.

Huawei will continue to play a role in modernizing its infrastructure, Hanne Knudsen, Telenor vice president for communications, told Reuters.

“Ericsson has been introduced as a new vendor for 5G RAN, but we will also work with Huawei both to maintain the 4G network and also upgrade to 5G coverage in selected areas of Norway,” Knudsen said in response to written questions.

“Huawei has delivered hardware for RAN, but not for the core network. When they will build 5G in selected areas for the modernization, this is also for RAN, not core,” she said.

Telenor’s Finnish subsidiary DNA also uses Huawei as one of several vendors for 5G RAN, Knudsen said.

RAN, or radio access network, refers to the radios and antenna that connect smartphones to the mobile network, and accounts for the bulk of the cost of a new network. It is not the core.

Telenor is using Finnish company Nokia and Ericsson for building its core network.

Telenor Norway boss Petter-Boerre Furberg told Reuters that Huawei network components would be phased out over the next four to five years.


Will sea, sand and social distancing make the Caribbean appealing?

Updated 3 min 19 sec ago

Will sea, sand and social distancing make the Caribbean appealing?

  • Officials want the new tourism guidelines to reassure travelers, without being off-putting

KINGSTON: A cluster of Caribbean islands are reopening this month for tourism, hoping to burnish their reputations as oases of tranquility after containing their COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing strict public health protocols.

The Caribbean, known for its palm-fringed beaches, turquoise water and colonial towns, is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. 

Antigua and Barbuda, the US Virgin Islands and St. Lucia are the first to reopen this week. Jamaica and Aruba are set to follow later in the month, with July target dates for the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

While other tourist hotspots such as Greece aim to limit arrivals from countries with high infection rates, the first flights the Caribbean is receiving are from the United States, which has the world’s highest number of reported cases.

But local tourism officials say they have little choice. Americans accounted for almost half the Caribbean’s 31.5 million visitors last year.

“What are we going to wait for? A vaccine? Shut down the country for two years?” Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez asked.

Instead, those islands reopening will conduct health screening, including temperature checks upon arrival, and require or encourage the use of face masks in public spaces.

They are divided over whether to test — as recommended by the Caribbean Public Health Agency — because of cost, reliability and availability concerns. Without testing, asymptomatic visitors could be a risk.

Antigua and Barbuda will do a rapid coronavirus test of visitors upon arrival, said Fernandez. 

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said it would require a certificate for a negative coronavirus test conducted up to 48 hours before departure.

It remains unclear if this would work, given tests are not widely available on demand in the US.

Concerns remain over reopenings in countries that do not require testing of arrivals, such as Jamaica.

“People should object, as should anyone who has done what they have done to flatten the curve of new cases,” said civil rights advocate Carol Narcisse, noting Jamaica has warned of a likely new rise in cases.

“Whose interest is the government really serving here?“

The coronavirus era has uprooted Caribbean carnival celebrations, nights out clubbing and resort buffets.

Still, the tourism industry hopes the mere appeal of sun, sea and the outdoors will suffice.

“Post-coronavirus, people want to get outside,” said Marc Melville, the head of Jamaica-based Chukka Tours.

Caribbean nations, which were quick to shut their borders and impose strict lockdowns as the pandemic spread, hope to market themselves as safe destinations. Antigua and Barbuda and the US Virgin Islands have respectively just one and two reported cases, officials said. St. Lucia has none.

Officials want the new tourism guidelines to reassure travelers, without being off-putting. Measures include sanitizing surfaces and social distancing in hotels, restaurants, tour operators and taxis.

Islands such as St. Lucia will pace their reopenings, keeping tourist sites closed in a first phase and allowing seated restaurant service only at resorts.

On his blog “One Mile at a Time,” travel writer Ben Schlappig wrote St. Lucia’s plan would make him feel safe: “The question becomes whether a visit would be any fun with all of these restrictions.”