Portugal moves closer to prohibiting Chinese 5G suppliers


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Portugal’s cybersecurity council, CSSC has issued a resolution that could prohibit the use of Chinese apparatus in high-speed 5G mobile networks and the 4G platforms on which the new technology is based.

The CSSC is a consultative body for the prime minister, and its document dated May 23 is another setback to Huawei’s (HWT.UL) efforts to enter the 5G market in Portugal and possibly extend existing contracts.

Under a law enacted in August of last year, the government has the authority to determine “the exclusion, restrictions on use, or cessation of use of equipment or services” for telecom companies, as well as the conditions and deadlines for compliance.

The government did not comment immediately.

Altice, NOS (NOS.LS), and Vodafone (VOD.L) have already stated that they will not use Huawei’s equipment in 5G core networks, citing European and American concerns that Chinese involvement in critical infrastructure could compromise security. Beijing and Huawei refute such claims.

Existing 5G networks in Portugal are not independent and still rely heavily on 4G technology and equipment.

Without mentioning China or any Chinese suppliers by name, the CSSC warned of a “high risk” to security from suppliers or providers “headquartered in a country where the government controls, interferes with, or exerts pressure on its activities in third countries.”

Its opinion is founded on an undisclosed report that assessed the safety of equipment used in 5G-powered public electronic communications networks.

It also cited security concerns when a country does not have data protection, cybersecurity, or intellectual property protection agreements with Portugal or the European Union, or is not an EU, NATO, or OECD member.

Huawei stated in a statement that it had “no prior knowledge and was not consulted about this matter” and that it was still collecting information “on the nature of the assessment” while hoping to continue serving Portuguese clients.

Europe has become a battleground in the technology rivalry between Beijing and Washington, and Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE), Huawei’s European competitors, could form a supplier duopoly if the Chinese company is excluded.

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