Huawei blocked from core 5G networks of major Dutch providers
Chinese technology company Huawei no longer supplies components to the core 5G networks of major Dutch telecom providers, FD reported. The decision is likely a result of several Dutch secret services finding the company to be the long arm of the Chinese government, potentially posing a threat to the national security of the Netherlands.
The update comes just a month after investigative reporting from De Volkskrant suggested that Huawei readily had access to the KPN mobile network a decade ago. This gave Huawei the ability to eavesdrop on communications from phone numbers on the KPN network, including that of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Chinese dissidents, and top government officials.
FD reported that a year and a half ago the Dutch government created the possibility of ordering network providers to remove equipment supplied by "untrusted suppliers" from their networks. Market leader Huawei was then not explicitly mentioned. The concrete instructions given to telecom companies from the Cabinet remained unclear.
In the meantime, the three major network providers in the Netherlands, KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile, have received a decision regarding which changes they needed to implement to their networks, said the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The content was declared a State secret and companies were not allowed to reveal any information about it, FD reported.
The Dutch spokesperson for the Chinese tech company did confirm, “We do not supply 5G core equipment in the Netherlands." Huawei's representative was not able to provide much clarity on the broader issue but has said that the company is no longer asked for the most critical parts of the networks. It is still asked to supply the antennas. "That's just where we are in the market," they said.
The consequences seem to be greatest for T-Mobile. The company said it now uses eight different vendors, although the vast majority of its network was previously built with equipment from Huawei, FD said. The company said due to the secretive nature of its communications with the government that it could not discuss the issue and could not reveal if the equipment was already been replaced.
KPN previously announced that it would be replacing Huawei equipment at the core of its network with that of Swedish firm Ericsson. The other affected Dutch provider, Vodafone, is said to be less reliant on the Chinese manufacturer compared to its two main competitors.
In 2012, the US was the first country to ban the networking equipment of the Chinese giant out of fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies.
Huawei has since then faced bans in a number of countries around the world due to its allegedly cozy relationship with the Chinese government.