Spain’s Telefonica plans to drastically reduce the number of types of equipment it buys from Chinese technology giant Huawei (HWT.UL) for the core of its next-generation mobile networks in Europe, its Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) said.
Europe’s fourth-largest telecom group will buy pieces of its most sensitive part of its infrastructure from various suppliers. which will use the so-called 5G technology to handle more data and connect billions of devices.
Choosing manufacturers for network equipment has become a political hot potato since Washington imposed an export ban on Huawei, the global market leader, but Telefonica’s shift away was ”a purely technical decision”, CTIO Enrique Blanco said.
Telefonica relies heavily on Huawei for its core 4G networks in key markets in Spain and Germany. But under the new stratgy, it will end by 2024.
Huawei’s equipment networks are few in the network with different layers coming from different suppliers, Blanco said. A structure helps to ensure the safety of the service.
”When the core comes from a single vendor, the probability is high that a failure in one part stops the whole network, ”he said.
Blanco said Telefonica not seen any evidence to support President Donald Tump’s allegations that Huawei gear is unsafe. Huawei and Beijing have denied the accusation.
”We have no evidence of back doors. We monitor every day,” he said
However, data protection was a factor in the decision to use multiple suppliers.
Thus, ”no vendor, has all the information available in their system, regardless of their nationality,” Blanco said.
The Madrid-based company will continue to buy from Huawei the radios and antennas that connect smartphones to the mobile network, equipment which accounts for the bulk of the cost, Blanco said
Follow European operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telecom are also opting for multiple vendors, but the latter is holding off from signing any contracts until German politician agree on whether to bar Huawei on national security grounds.