Foldable phones aside, Huawei stars in the Mobile World Congress (MWC). The 5G determines the future of telecommunications, and the Chinese company leads the deployment of this new technology, with Europe as the current battlefield … commercial. EU security is suddenly among the concerns of the Administration of Donald Trump, which has even entrusted representatives of the State Department displaced to Barcelona to warn the governments of the Old Continent that in the Chinese company have been „deceptive and dishonest »with the United States. If someone can explain what Huawei does and does not do, accused of industrial espionage for the benefit of China, that is Vincent Pang , president of the company in Western Europe. «I can not reveal the physical location, but we follow all the local requirements. The data we handle is stored here; no data will ever leave Europe, „he said yesterday in an interview with a handful of international media among which was EL MUNDO.
In December, the Americans were satisfied with their arrest warrant against Huawei’s financial director – and daughter of the former military engineer who founded the company. This week, the US and China have moved their trade war to Barcelona. «Our 5G equipment technology, according to some studies, is 20 times better than the American one; in practice it will be about 10 times better. In any case, it’s much better, „says Pang.
Spain is today a key territory for this give and take, as this director admits: „We have different agreements with Telefónica , Orange and Vodafone . This market has always been strategic for Huawei. Although I can not reveal the contracts, confidential, much of what has been done for Europe has started in Spain ». This way he assures to have said it to the minister of Industry, Kings Maroto: „Spain is very active in the plan of 5G. I congratulated her for it ».
It is known that the technological relationship between Huawei and Vodafone affects in Europe and in Spain the deployment of the so-called core, a particularly sensitive transmission route in the 5G, so the British operator stopped last month any new agreement with Huawei concerning the core , a waiting for Europe to shed light on the hypothetical risks. Asked by this newspaper, Telefónica merely states that it is one of its suppliers, without specifying in what type of service.
Although the most important is located in Düsseldorf (Germany), there is also Huawei headquarters in the United Kingdom, France and Spain. The relationship with this country also reaches the Government: the National Cybersecurity Institute (Incibe) has been maintaining a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese company since 2016. Although this collaboration is summarized in a program for the promotion of good practices among citizens, it is difficult to find such a close relationship between Huawei and a state administration throughout the continent. Huawei sources acknowledge that there is no other similar agreement across the EU. The program has been renewed since then, year after year and also towards 2020, when the 5G should be implemented.
Ex-government sources point out that, of the sensitive actions, the Incibe is not occupied, but directly by the National Intelligence Center (CNI). „The collaboration with Huawei, as with the rest of public and private entities, does not imply support for its brand or technology,“ said the newspaper from Incibe, based in León, a city that aspires to become the headquarters of the European Cybersecurity Agency.
The 5G, fifth mobile generation, will force next year that television operators move away from frequency – as citizens adapt their antennas again and re-tune the channels-, so that telcos can occupy those bands of the spectrum already released , after payment in public auctions. The advance of the 5G is summarized in a better connection via smartphone: it reduces the latency or delay in transmissions, even when they involve large amounts of data. Five companies will showcase the deployment: the Swedish Ericsson, the Finnish Nokia, the South Korean Samsung and the Chinese ZTE and Huawei, these two in the spotlight of the US Administration.
That is to say, America has lagged behind in this race. For that reason, it is worth taking seriously the tweet launched by Trump last week: „We want 5G technology and even 6G as soon as possible. The current standard is much more powerful, fast and intelligent. The American companies must redouble their efforts or they will be left behind ». The US is competing in protectionism with its referent, China’s market communism, through alerts that slow down the Asian industry and, in turn, slow down European technological development. It remains to be proven if global cybersecurity is safeguarded or by the interests of US companies. A side note: last year, Huawei surpassed Apple as the second largest maker of smartphones in the world, just behind Samsung.
«In 2017 Huawei covered 28% of European mobile infrastructure, Ericsson 27% and Nokia 23%. We have a balanced scenario with three companies, although they control most of it. But that changes radically if you go from three to two (…) It would be necessary to make an expensive, massive and disruptive change of equipment, which would delay the 5G in Europe. Of course the US gets rid of that problem, „explained Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone this week, in an interview with EL MUNDO and other media. The mobile, you know, serves much more than making calls.