Belgium will not join UK in banning Huawei from its telecom networks

Belgium will not join UK in banning Huawei from its telecom networks
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Huawei will not be banned from Belgium’s 5G-networks like the United Kingdom plans to do soon, Federal Minister for Telecom Philippe de Backer announced today.

In the UK, Huawei and its technology will not be allowed to help expand the updated version of local telecom networks (5G). The decision came after the US imposed new sanctions on Huawei, which will require foreign producers of ‘semiconductors’ essential for the production of smartphones to get an American license before selling their products to Huawei.

The American sanctions were dealt to Huawei as part of the ongoing trade war between China and the US, in which Huawei is seen to be untrustworthy and suspected of collecting information for the Chinese government. These claims currently remain unsubstantiated.

Following a risk analysis, Minister De Backer decided that Belgium will not be revising its telecom policies.

“There is no reason to be more strict,” De Backer told De Standaard. “The risk analysis showed that we are safe.”

Concerns were raised after the Belgian National Security Council announced that ‘high risk’ telecom suppliers are excluded from the ‘core’ of the future 5G-networks in Belgium. In areas that are not the core of the network, these suppliers will be allowed to constitute a maximum of 35% of the network. The suppliers will also not be allowed to base themselves in certain ‘sensitive’ zones, such as in the vicinity of military compounds.

Huawei is one of nine companies worldwide to provide telecom hardware and ‘carriers’ necessary to make 5G accessible for the public. Their products range from materials that are used for 5G towers (which send a signal, such as the internet) to receptors that enable users to make use of 5G (such as smartphones, that can connect to the internet). These telecom products and services together make up the 5G network.

According to T-Mobile, 5G will make for “stronger network reliability, faster downloads, and support for more connected devices than ever before.”

The US is putting considerable pressure on Belgium and other European countries to ban Huawei. Belgian operators have indicated that they hope that the government will not reconsider and become more strict in the future, as they have been working with Huawei technology for an extended period of time.

A spokesperson for Huawei, Ed Brewster, told CNN that the UK's decision to ban Huawei following US sanctions was disappointing.

"It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide," Brewster said. “Regrettably, our future in the UK has become politicised, this is about US trade policy and not security."

According to the BBC, the UK ban does not mean that Huawei technology used in the previous 4G, 3G, and 2G networks will have to be removed.

Amée Zoutberg

The Brussels Times

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