Reports are suggesting the bullet dodging display from Huawei is set to continue as France edges closer to a decision.

None of the authorities have been forthcoming with the official decision, though anonymous sources are suggesting the Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes D’information (ANSSI), the French cybersecurity agency, will give the thumbs up with similar restrictions to the UK. The introduction of limitations would not be considered a perfect outcome, but this should be considered a win for Huawei.

“They don’t want to ban Huawei, but the principle is: ‘Get them out of the core mobile network’,” one of the sources stated.

Should this position turn out to be accurate, the France has taken the same view on the network as the UK. As long as Huawei technology is kept out of the core network segment, where sensitive data can be exposed, the risk of working with such a vendor can be mitigated. This seems to be the position being communicated through the back challenges, though there are certainly likely to be nuances in the official statements.

The UK decision, which seems to have been used as the framework for the French position, places a 35% restriction on Huawei equipment and an outright ban on Huawei technology in the core segment of the network. The 35% limitation applies to both market share of the RAN equipment inventory and also the total traffic which traverses across those radios which are deemed ‘high risk’. It remains to be seen what nuances are to be placed on the French decision.

Although the French telcos might breathe a sigh of relief, the US is likely to be considerably aggravating with the leak. France already has an awkward relationship with the US, it is one of the champions of a digital sales tax on internet companies after all.

The US has always maintained the risk cannot be mitigated as the components of the network are more intrinsically linked than ever before. Telcos should not be allowed to separate the RAN and core, though this is the position of the politicians not necessarily the telcos who have never worked with Huawei. There is no skin in the game here, therefore there have been no opinions expressed.

Once again, this appears to be a failure for the US lobby missionaries. The pesky Europeans are refusing to listen to the US bullies, instead choosing to make their own decisions based on their own criteria.

Looking at the French situation, Orange might have gone the other direction, selecting Nokia and Ericsson for 5G deployments, but Bouygues Telecom and SFR were not in such a favourable position. Both are dependent on Huawei for 4G and would have to have considered some Huawei equipment for 5G to ensure backwards interoperability, as least for non-standalone 5G.

This does seem like a sensible decision, made for the benefit of the French connectivity space, but it will likely rile the US.


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