Irish telco Eir will not be dropping Huawei from its 5G network.
Eir's CEO, Carolan Lennon, said the company was sticking with advice from the EU and that any change would be too costly for operators and customers, CNBC reports. The CEO also said Eir trusted the security and reliability of Huawei and the Chinese company would stay on to maintain equipment in parts of Eir's network.
Eir on the side of caution
In January, the European Commission published its 5G Toolbox which assesses risks and provides advice on rolling out networks across the EU. The Toolbox suggests telcos impose restrictions and enhanced controls on their networks to tighten up security.
Eir uses Huawei for radio access equipment and uses Ericsson for the core of its 5G network. The company says it manages and monitors its own network with its own staff and backs the EU’s proposal to not ban “any particular network provider.”
Lennon said: “The majority of telcos in Europe use Huawei equipment so that would absolutely slow down the deployment of these fast networks just at a time when consumers and businesses need them the most and absolutely drive the extra cost to the operators to do that and obviously increase the prices as well. We’re following the European Commission endorsement of the 5G toolbox and I’m not expecting that to change.”
However, the EU has previously suggested telcos might consider European companies for their 5G networks. In the EU's factsheet accompanying the Toolbox, one of the lines of advice given to member states has been to "maintain a diverse and sustainable 5G supply chain in order to avoid long-term dependency." When the Toolbox came out in January, Politico said the new regulations would limit Huawei without banning it outright.
According to Euronews, the bloc has insisted companies like Nokia, Ericsson or Samsung could easily provide the European Union with everything it needs to develop 5G infrastructure. Although not saying the company was a security threat, it did make clear that if Huawei was flagged as a risk it could be swapped out.
The EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: "It is more important than ever to ensure a high level of security when deploying 5G networks in the EU in view of the growing needs for digital infrastructure in our economies. In cooperation with [the] Member States, we are committed to putting in place reliable, coordinated measures not only to ensure the cybersecurity of 5G but also to strengthen our technological autonomy."
The EU is not barring Chinese companies, unlike the US who claim the telco’s links to the Chinese government is dangerous. Huawei has consistently denied the allegations. Most recently, the UK told mobile network operators to remove Huawei's kit from their networks by 2027.
The Huawei/5G news follows a €1bn ($1.1bn) phased investment in Eir’s network. Back in 2018, Eir said it was pumping the money into 5G over the next five years.