Portugal Contemplates Exclusion of Huawei from National 5G Networks

Portugal is deliberating the possibility of prohibiting Huawei and other Chinese companies from involvement in its 5G infrastructure development

Portugal’s cybersecurity council raises concerns over the potential security risks posed by non-Western suppliers.

Portugal is deliberating the possibility of prohibiting Huawei and other Chinese companies from involvement in its 5G infrastructure development. According to Bloomberg, the Portuguese government has recommended that local telecommunications providers refrain from procuring 5G equipment from suppliers based outside the European Union or countries not affiliated with NATO or the OECD.

In a statement released by Portugal’s Higher Council for Cybersecurity on Thursday, the government expressed the view that companies from outside these jurisdictions present a “high risk” to the security of the country’s wireless networks. While the document did not explicitly mention Huawei, given China’s non-membership in NATO, the OECD, and the EU, both Huawei and other Chinese suppliers like ZTE would effectively be excluded from participating in Portugal’s 5G networks if the country’s cabinet endorses the security council’s recommendation.

A spokesperson from Huawei responded to the situation, stating, “Huawei has no prior knowledge of, and hasn’t been consulted about, this matter. Over the past two decades, Huawei has worked with Portuguese carriers to build out wireless networks and provide quality services that connect millions of people. We will continue to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and serve Portuguese customers and partners who rely on our products and services,” as reported by the Financial Times.

For Portugal, a move to ban Chinese companies from involvement in its 5G networks would signify a significant shift in its relationship with the Asian economic powerhouse. The country has enjoyed strong ties with China and has been among the largest recipients of Chinese investment per capita in recent years. In 2018, Altice Portugal, the country’s largest wireless carrier, entered into an agreement to utilize Huawei equipment for a portion of its 5G deployment. If Portugal proceeds with the ban, it will join the ranks of Canada and several other European nations, including Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, that have recently excluded Huawei from their 5G networks.

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