EU tech-industry insiders call for 5G supply diversity

Tech-industry insiders in the European Union (EU) on Wednesday called for more diversified equipment providers to ensure network security on the continent.

The debate organized by the European Parliament was hosted by four lawmakers from the parliament’s four main political groups.

Chinese telecommunication equipment maker Huawei also attended the debate and expressed the company’s willingness to further its partnership with EU countries.

“Huawei has been a trusted partner in Europe for 20 good years. We’ve grown up together,” said Abraham Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to the EU.

The technologies that Huawei developed in cooperation with European partners “are for European industry and will help Europe strengthen its advantage in these areas,” he said.

Huawei shares “Europe’s values of openness, innovation and the rule of law,” which have made the bloc a powerhouse in mobile communications, he said.

Liu used Germany, the EU’s largest economy, as an example. The country said on Tuesday that it will not exclude Huawei from bidding to build 5G networks.

Liu said Germany’s “fact-and-standards-based approach” is of “exemplary significance” for addressing global cyber security challenges.

“Politicizing cyber security will only hinder technology development and social progress while doing nothing to address the security challenges all countries face,” he said.

Competition and diversity were also among the key words discussed by tech-industry insiders of EU countries.

“We strongly believe the societal benefits of competition,” said Luc Hindryckx, executive director of European Competitive Telecommunications Association.

“Competition not only provides lower prices, improved quality and efficiency, but it’s also been the fundamental driver of innovation that forces market players to continue to improve,” he said.

A diversified offer “is key to release the innovation potential in all old sectors of the European economy, and that is in our view what is at stake,” he said.

Diversity in supply chains, said Joakim Reiter, director of external affairs of the British Vodafone Group, helps ensure and promote cybersecurity in the industry.

The mobile industry in Europe “is struggling” with network security mainly because it lacks resilience, diversity and adequate supply in the supply chain, said Reiter.

“Any serious operator will have multiple venders so as to be able to move traffic if there’s any software glitches in the network,” he said. “We need a very conscious plan to broaden the supply chain and to drive diversity.”

“I think it’s very important not to reduce what is an incredibly complex and large question around security to a very narrow question around equipment … or even worse, one supplier of equipment,” he said.