Portugal is moving closer to its goal of banning Chinese suppliers from accessing 5G

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s CSSC cybersecurity council has issued a resolution that could officially ban telecom operators from using Chinese devices in their high-speed 5G mobile networks, as well as 4G platforms on which the new technology is based.

The CSSC is the prime minister’s advisory body and its May 23 document is another blow to Chinese tech giant Huawei’s efforts to enter the 5G market in Portugal and potentially extend existing deals.

According to a law passed last August, the government can determine “the exclusion, restrictions on use or cessation of use of equipment or services” by telecom companies, setting conditions and deadlines that operators must meet.

The government had no immediate comment.

The country’s main operators, Altice, NOS and Vodafone, have already said they will not use Huawei’s equipment in 5G core networks amid concerns in Europe and the US that China’s involvement in critical infrastructure could jeopardize security. Beijing and Huawei reject such proposals.

Portugal’s existing 5G networks are not self-contained and are still largely based on 4G technology and equipment.

Without naming China or Chinese suppliers, the CSSC warned of a “high risk” to safety from suppliers or vendors that are “headquartered in a country where the government exercises control, interference or pressure on their operations in third countries “.

Its opinion is based on an unpublished report that assessed the security of devices in public electronic communications networks using 5G technology.

Security risks were also cited when the country in which a supplier is based does not have data protection, cybersecurity or intellectual property protection agreements with Portugal or the European Union, or when it is not an EU, NATO or OECD member is.

Huawei said in a statement it has “no prior knowledge of the matter and has not been consulted on the matter” and is still collecting information “about the nature of the assessment” and hopes to continue serving Portuguese customers.

Europe has become the battleground in the tech rivalry between Beijing and Washington, and Huawei’s European competitors Ericsson and Nokia could become a supplier duopoly if the Chinese company were excluded.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Potter)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft

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