The three main telecom companies that run Portugal’s mobile phone market have pledged to not use Huawei’s 5G technology to power their infrastructure. The announcement comes in spite of the government not banning Huawei.
Reuters reports that NOS, Vodafone, and Altice, which make up 100 per cent of Portugal’s mobile market, have decided against using Huawei’s technology in the core system of their 5G networks, including servers, gateways, and routers.
NOS “will not have Huawei equipment in its core network,” said a spokeswoman for the company to Reuters.
Vodafone Portugal also informed the paper that its parent company “won’t include Huawei in its different operations, so naturally, Vodafone Portugal is no exception.” Instead, the company will be partnering with Ericsson for its technology. The move follows an official ban in the United Kingdom, which orders UK telecoms companies to move away from Huawei’s kit in its 5G infrastructure by 2027.
Huawei’s technology, which is cheaper than that of its two main rivals, Ericsson and Nokia, has provided China with access to the global telecoms market. Huawei is currently facing scrutiny over security issues posed by its technology. Huawei’s involvement in next-gen telecoms infrastructure has drawn diplomatic pressure from the United States to ban the group from expanding its reach.
The Portuguese government does not have a stance on Huawei. Speaking to Reuters, Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos said that the country had established a working group to assess security risks relating to 5G and had completed its work, but has not yet drawn any conclusions against Huawei or any other supplier.
Nuno Santos said that the collective decision of the three companies to not use Huawei was a decision independent of any government ruling.
“It has nothing to do with the options or impositions of the Portuguese government, which in this matter is absolutely aligned with the European orientation,” he said. Reuters notes that the European Commission has called upon member states to diversify their 5G suppliers in an effort to limit Huawei’s presence on the continent.
5G networks carry higher security risks because they use more sophisticated software to process sensitive data. The sophistication of this software could ostensibly allow state actors like China to embed backdoors and other malicious code to enable data theft.