“What I can say is that there will be no total ban,” Guillaume Poupard told Les Echos newspaper in an interview. “(But) for operators who are not currently using Huawei, we encourage them not to go. ”
The U.S. government has urged its allies to exclude the Chinese telecommunications giant from next-generation communications from the West, saying that Beijing could use it to spy. Huawei has denied the accusations.
Sources told Reuters in March that France would not ban Huawei but would seek to keep it outside the main mobile network, which carries higher surveillance risks as it deals with sensitive information such as customer personal data.
France’s decision regarding Huawei’s equipment is crucial for two of the country’s four telecom operators, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, since around half of their current mobile network is carried out by the Chinese group.
“For those who already use Huawei, we issue authorizations for periods that vary between three and eight years,” said Poupard in the interview.
Orange, controlled by the state, has already chosen the European rivals of Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
Poupard said that from next week, operators who have not received explicit authorization to use Huawei equipment for the 5G network may consider non-response after the legal deadline as a rejection of their requests .
Poupard said that the choice was made to protect the independence of France, and not as an act of hostility towards China.
“It’s not about bashing Huawei or anti-Chinese racism,” said Poupard. “All we are saying is that the risk is not the same with European suppliers as with non-Europeans. “
Report by Michel Rose; Editing by Jan Harvey
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