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.