BARCELONA (Reuters) – The European Commission will decide soon on admission criteria for telecoms network vendors, Digital Single Market Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said, adding she understood concerns that barring Chinese companies could delay the roll-out of 5G services.
“When 5G networks become mission-critical, networks need to be secure,” Gabriel said in a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress, the telecoms industry’s main annual gathering.
The U.S. administration has lobbied allies to bar Chinese vendors led by Huawei Technologies on national security grounds, saying Huawei’s closeness to the Chinese government posed a national security risk and its equipment was open to cyber espionage. The company denies the accusations.
Sources have told Reuters that the EU executive is considering proposals that would amount to a de-facto ban on Huawei.
The GSMA lobby group, which represents operators and is hosting the Mobile World Congress, has proposed a Europe-wide testing regime to strengthen network security. Leading members oppose a ban that they say could delay 5G by years.
“Let me reassure you that the Commission takes your concerns seriously,” Gabriel told telecoms executives. “Nobody is helped by premature decisions based on partial analysis of the facts.”
She added, however, that the 28-member EU should take a decision soon to avoid the risk of individual countries going it alone, potentially leading to a fragmentation of the bloc’s common market.
“We all know that this fragmentation damages the digital single market,” said Gabriel, adding that the Commission would “take steps soon” on the issue.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Jason Neely)