China’s Huawei Technologies is making it very difficult for European carriers to drop the company from its supply chain for next-generation 5G wireless service, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Wednesday.
“If you have deployed Huawei as your 4G network, Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G — meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G,” Reuters quoted Stephenson as saying in a speech in Washington.
“When the Europeans say we got a problem — that’s their problem. They really don’t have an option to go to somebody else.”
The United States has been pressuring other countries to drop Huawei from their networks. Stephenson said the US government can do a better job explaining the security risks of Huawei.
The biggest risk is not that the Chinese government might listen in on our conversations or mine our data if we use their equipment,” the AT&T chief said.
Within a decade, 5G will drive all US factories, utilities, refineries, traffic management and help underpin autonomous vehicles.
“If that much of infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology. We damn well better be,” Stephenson said.
The US warns that next-generation 5G equipment, which some telecoms experts see as more vulnerable to attack than previous technology, could be exploited by the Chinese government for spying if supplied by Huawei.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that her country is not planning to exclude any one company from its 5G auction per se, but wants bidders in the mobile spectrum auction to meet certain requirements.
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