According to several telecom specialists, operators' uncertainty about whether or not to use Huawei's 5G antennas for their new mobile networks is growing.
Yet the law on securing mobile networks (nicknamed "anti-Huawei") has made things clearer. Indeed, operators must get the green light from Anssi - the National Agency for Information Systems Security - before using 5G equipment. The Agency then has two months to study their files.
At the end of December, Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom all submitted authorization applications for the deployment of Chinese 5G antennas in France.
However, according to several sources, cyber-experts in the French-speaking part of the country are making more and more requests for further information. It's not serious, "says a concerned operator. If they're trying to save time this way, it's a mistake. A court would never agree with them, the case law is very clear".
What operators are actually afraid of is that the Anssi is deliberately dragging its feet to avoid having to post a denial of clearance ahead of the 5G frequency allocations, scheduled for April. If equipment manufacturers were to be denied to operators before that date, the latter would then be weakened and could therefore lower their bids for the 5G auctions .
According to the new legal framework, the absence of a positive response from the Anssi within two months is tantamount to a refusal. But this time limit runs from receipt of a complete file... a complete file. Hence the irritation of the operators in front of what one actor describes as "delaying tactics" to postpone the deadline.
A specialist in the sector even indicates that "Some operators are impatiently waiting for an implicit refusal to be able to take legal action".
But the strategic interest of the four players differs. Indeed, Free, using only antennae of the Finnish Nokia, is not concerned.
Orange does not use Huawei antennas in France to date. However, it wants to have the possibility to solicit the Chinese supplier for its future 5G network.
As for SFR and Bouygues Telecom, which use Huawei on half of their respective networks, they are keen to be able to continue doing business with the Shenzhen giant. Doing without its 5G antennas would indeed require dismantling the 3G and 4G antennas for compatibility reasons. The cost would be enormous. You would have to buy and install this equipment. Above all, a large part of the network would be disrupted for many months, pushing customers into the arms of the competition. "Free would become, without doing anything, the second best network in the country... while it remains far behind" as a telecom specialist analyses.
Source : Les Echos