The German government is developing a new plan to impose new restrictions on the use of Chinese equipment for the country’s telecommunications networks, according to a policy document seen by POLITICO.
“It is evident that there are considerable structural dependencies on Huawei and ZTE,” the document reads.
Berlin authorities plan to require telecommunications operators to stop using equipment from Chinese telecommunications providers for the core (or backbone) part of telecommunications networks by January 1, 2026, and to gradually stop using use Chinese kits in the radio access network (RAN). which constitutes the largest network of masts and base stations, within three years.
Two industry officials and a government representative earlier told POLITICO that the federal government is considering a limit on Chinese equipment to a maximum of 25 percent in the RAN, as well as a total ban in sensitive geographic areas like the capital.
The plans – which are still being discussed between ministries – are the latest twist in a long and politically painful process aimed at limiting Germany’s dependence on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. If approved, these projects could further inflame trade tensions between Brussels and Beijing, already facing a dispute over Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles.
The secretaries of state from the ministries of the Interior, Transport and Digital met on Tuesday to try to iron out the details, officials from the two ministries confirmed.
But the Ministry of Digital Affairs – led by liberal politician Volker Wissing – has expressed fears that a ban in the form currently being discussed could lead Germany to greater dependence on Huawei’s main rivals, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, said a ministry official close to the matter. POLICY.
German magazine Der Spiegel was the first to report details of the plan.
Last month, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser warned German telecoms operators that it was time to reduce reliance on Chinese suppliers, reflecting growing EU pressure on member countries to step up their fight against 5G kits which present “significantly higher risks” than their European competitors. ‘ equipment.
As Europe’s largest economy, Germany still relies heavily on China for its telecommunications networks, according to recent industry estimates compiled by telecommunications consultancy Strand Consult late last year.
Germany has for years been a sore spot for the European Union and its ally the United States because of its dependence on Chinese telecommunications technology. The EU has stepped up pressure on member countries to impose restrictions since 2020 and in June reiterated calls to impose tougher measures. The United States has also actively pushed allied governments to remove Huawei from 5G networks.
“The risks have been known for a long time. Our security authorities have repeatedly warned against unilateral dependencies,” Faeser told German newspaper Handelsblatt in August.
Operators are not happy about the impending restrictions.
“A short-term reduction would endanger mobile coverage and mobile expansion for years to come,” Deutsche Telekom spokesman Stephan Broszio said previously, arguing that the company had started removing Huawei from the core network from 2019 and was based on a multi-supplier strategy. in its technology purchases.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article has been updated to include more details from a strategy document seen by POLITICO.