The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) has leapt to the defence of embattled Huawei.
A "pro-competitive trade association," which represents challenger telcos and digital solutions providers in Europe, ECTA said it "denounced" any bans on Chinese suppliers if they were based on "geopolitical reasons."
The European trade body thought the "5G Toolbox" was sufficient to keep a watchful eye on suppliers. Proposed by the European Commission, the toolbox proposes an "objective assessment of identified risks and proportionate mitigating measures."
Take me through the arguments
ECTA's siding with Huawei is perhaps not a surprise. The Chinese supplier is after all an ECTA member.
That said, ECTA makes what it clearly thinks is a reasoned argument for national authorities to think twice about giving Huawei the heave-ho.
According to ECTA, a reduction in the number of worldwide suppliers from five to three [Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung] will impact the telecoms sector "by increasing costs, negatively impacting performance, and delaying the deployment of 5G networks and constraining innovation potential."
Moreover, added ECTA, there'll be "wider socio-economic consequences, such as reducing the capacity of enterprises, public institutions, civil society and individual end-users to offer new digital services and successfully drive growth and recovery."
ECTA further ventured that "access to specific vendors, if not guaranteed on an equivalent basis for all operators, risks distorting competition."
John Strand, a consultant – and an outspoken critic of Chinese vendors and what he sees as their overly close relationship with the Chinese state – was having none of it. He immediately fired off a list of questions and responses to ECTA, seen by Light Reading, which queried the organization's stance.
He challenged ECTA to produce documentation showing the financial impact on the telecoms sector by trimming down the number of RAN vendors from five to three. Strand has repeatedly downplayed estimates that a Huawei swap-out would cost many billions of dollars and hold up Europe's 5G deployment. "The cost of ripping and replacing is very small because they would need to replace this equipment anyway," he says.
Strand also argued that, as the theory of competition is predicated on a "neutral environment" in which the state does not control the market players, "how can it be fair in Europe to allow a player in the market that plays by different rules?"
Strand has always maintained that Huawei is controlled and subsidized by the Chinese government.
For its part, Huawei has always vehemently denied that it's at the beck and call of the Chinese state and that its 5G equipment poses a threat to national security.
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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading