Eurobites: Italian Govt Denies Reports of Planned Huawei, ZTE 5G Ban

Paul Rainford
2/7/2019
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: 'No-deal' Brexit and the right to roam like at home; more 5G testing from Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom; Ericsson targets critical communications.

  • Italy's government has denied press reports that it will seek to ban Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) from its 5G market over security concerns. In a statement on its website, Italy's Ministry of Economic Development said: "With reference to the press articles on an alleged banning of Huawei and ZTE from Italy in view of the adoption of 5G, the Ministry of Economic Development denies any intention to take any initiative in this regard." The denial came shortly after a Reuters report citing Italian newspaper La Stampa said Italy was preparing to use "golden powers" -- brought into play when national interest is thought to be at stake -- to pull out of any contracts that may have already been signed without having to pay the usual penalties. Any ban would be a further setback for Huawei, which has already been shut out of several markets over security fears, as well as Italian customers such as Telecom Italia, which forwarded the government's denial to Light Reading when asked to comment on the Reuters report. Telecom Italia (TIM) last December told Light Reading it had no plans to exclude Huawei from its networks in the absence of government restrictions. European operators BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) have paused deployment of Huawei products, started replacing the Chinese vendor or decided to exclude it from future business due to uncertainty about government plans. Security agencies are said to be worried that Chinese authorities might use spyware installed in Chinese network products to snoop on other countries and plan cyber attacks. (See Telecom Italia Stands by Huawei as Peers Waver and Huawei Pledges $2B to Address Security Concerns, Appease the Brits.)

  • The UK is planning to revoke current legislation relating to EU "roam like at home" arrangements if a "no-deal" Brexit occurs and, says HuffPost UK, has set out a statutory instrument that prepares the ground for this move. This could lead to Brits having to pay surcharges for the use of their mobile phones when traveling in mainland Europe post-Brexit. However, commenting on the matter, BICS Vice President of Mobility and IoT Mikaël Schachne believes that consumers are "still unlikely to see the high tariffs that once existed … Roaming packages promote and drive subscriber loyalty, and encourage the use of all manner of mobile services and apps, helping operators to market and deliver additional services, making it in service providers’ best interests to stay competitive."

  • Vodafone UK has teamed up with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Ericsson to conduct "over the air" 5G tests using a device similar in size to 5G smartphones already being developed. The test will take place at the Vodafone Technology Centre in Newbury, and forms part of a wider UK trial of 5G technology. Vodafone is very excited about using 5G for 3D holographic calls, a technology it demonstrated last September -- see the video below. (See also Vodafone's Holo Demo Dazzles Crowd, But Is It a Viable 5G Use Case?)

  • In other Vodafone news, the company has announced that Brian Humphries, current CEO of Vodafone Business, is leaving next month to take up a role elsewhere. Vivek Badrinath will act as interim CEO until a permanent successor is found.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has set up its latest 5G "test field" in the German city of Darmstadt. Once completed, the test network will comprise 18 antennas at six different sites. Commercial systems from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) will be used.

  • Ericsson has launched three new broadband offerings aimed at the critical communications market, for both local private networks and nationwide mission-critical LTE networks. For more details, see this press release.

  • Germany's Federal Cartel Office has ruled that Facebook has abused its market dominance to collect data from users without their consent. As Reuters reports, the ruling -- which Facebook intends to appeal -- marks the conclusion of a three-year investigation into the social media behemoth.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

    Additional material and encouragement from Iain Morris.

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