France: No Huawei ban, but 5G telecom firms urged not to use it

The head of the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI says there would not be a total ban on using equipment from Chinese technology giant Huawei in the roll-out of France’s 5G telecommunications network, but that it was urging French firms to avoid using the company.

“What I can say is that there won’t be a total ban,” Guillaume Poupard told Les Echos newspaper in an interview. “[But] for operators that are not currently using Huawei, we are [encouraging] them not to go for it.”

The United States government has urged its allies to exclude the Chinese firm from the West’s next-generation communications networks, saying Beijing could use it for spying. Huawei has denied the charges.

The company was added to the US Department of Commerce’s “entity list” a year ago due to national security concerns, amid accusations from Washington that it violated US sanctions on Iran and can spy on customers.

Sources told Reuters in March that France would not ban Huawei but would seek to keep it out of the core mobile network, which carries higher surveillance risks because it processes sensitive information such as customers’ personal data.

France’s decision over Huawei’s equipment is crucial for two of the country’s four telecoms operators, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, as about half of their current mobile network is made by the Chinese group.

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