France's four mobile operators are being given clearer indications on which vendors they will be allowed to select as their 5G network suppliers, according to comments made by the head of French cybersecurity agency ANSSI.
Although France will stop short of imposing an outright ban on using equipment from Huawei, it will become more difficult for the China-based vendor to operate in the country. Guillaume Poupard told Les Echos that requests to use Huawei will be subject to refusal.
According to Le Monde, Huawei rivals Ericsson and Nokia will not be exposed to the same treatment. Poupard said operators that don't already use Huawei are being encouraged to avoid switching to the China-based supplier.
"For those that are already using Huawei, we are delivering authorizations for durations that vary between three and eight years," Poupard said. According to Reuters, he said that from next week, operators that have not received an explicit authorization to use Huawei equipment for the 5G network can consider a non-response after the legal deadline as a rejection of their requests.
Reuters reported in March that France would not ban Huawei but would seek to keep it out of the core mobile network.
Orange has already selected Ericsson and Nokia as its 5G vendors and has largely ruled out using Huawei. Iliad's Free has picked Nokia for its 5G networks in France and Italy. (See Ericsson, Nokia at front of queue for Orange 5G contracts.)
The situation is less clear cut for Bouygues Telecom and Altice-owned SFR, however. Both operators have used the Chinese vendor for 4G networks, and telcos nearly always stick with their existing 4G suppliers when upgrading to the non-standalone version of 5G, which uses the 4G core in conjunction with a 5G radio access network (RAN).
According to earlier reports, Bouygues Telecom and SFR have already indicated they will seek compensation from the French state if Huawei is excluded. An AFP report noted that Huawei provides almost 50% of Bouygues Telecom's 4G RAN, with the remainder from Ericsson. Around 52% of SFR's network is said to be based on Huawei equipment.
Michel Combot, the managing director of the French Telecoms Federation (Fédération Française des Télécoms), said in March that if Huawei equipment is banned from 5G networks, Bouygues Telecom and SFR would be forced to replace 4G antennas in entire regions of the country.
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- Orange CEO: Telecom Supply Chain at Risk
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading