France won’t ban Huawei, but urges 5G telecoms to avoid company

PARIS – The head of the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI said that the use of equipment from Huawei will not be completely banned in the launch of the French 5G telecommunications network, but has forced French telecos to avoid moving to the Chinese company.

“I can’t say it will not be completely forbidden,” said Guillaume Poupard in an interview with the newspaper Les Echos. “(But) for operators who are not currently using Huawei, we encourage them not to use them.”

The U.S. government has urged its allies to exclude from the next generation of Western communication from the West, saying Beijing can use it for espionage. Huawei denied the charges.

Sources said that in March, Reuters would not ban Huawei, but would try to exclude it from the main mobile network with higher surveillance risks, as it processes sensitive information like customers’ personal data.

France’s decision on Huawei’s equipment is crucial, as the country’s four telecom operators, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, are provided by nearly half of the existing mobile networks for the Chinese group.

Poupard, in the Interview, “We authorize people who already use Huawei for periods ranging from three to eight years.

State-controlled Orange has already chosen Huawei and Nokia competitors in Europe.

Poupard said that, starting next week, operators who have not received explicit authority to use Huawei equipment for the 5G network can accept it as refusing their requests not to respond after the legal deadline.

Poupard said the election was made not to act as an enmity against China, but to protect French independence.

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“This isn’t Huawei bashing or anti-Chinese racism,” Poupard said. “All we say is that the risk is not the same as European suppliers, as with non-Europeans.”

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