The “anti-Huawei” bill for 5G deployments will be presented to the Senate at the end of June 2019. As things stand, operators are very dissatisfied with the text. They believe that the government wants quietly to remove Huawei from the market by making them wear the hat and that the powers entrusted to the Anssi are disproportionate.
The proposed law “to protect the interests of the defense and national security of France in the context of the operation of mobile radio networks”, known as the “anti-Huawei”, does not please French operators at all, report Echoes. While the latest edits are made to the text for a passage in front of the Senate scheduled for June 26, 2019, anger rumbling on the side of telecom actors
“Anti-Huawei” law: the government wants to blame the operators
“The state wants to rely on operators to not use Huawei for 5G deployments,” denounces a senior official on condition of anonymity. Also quoted by the economic media, one of his accomplices underlines the hypocrisy of the bill: “In theory, this is not an anti-Huawei law. But all actors auditioned in the Senate have received a letter headed ‘PPL Huawei’, “he explains.
At Vivatech in Paris, Emmanuel Macron said he did not want to ban Huawei on the French 5G market. So it seems that the French executive has front support for the Chinese group, probably to maintain good relations with China, but behind the scenes, we are working to put a spoke in the wheels and pass a possible absence of Huawei in future French infrastructure as a decision made by operators.
Operators denounce a drift
Another important point, the text provides for giving extremely broad powers to the National Agency for the security of information systems (Anssi), particularly with regard to the authorization of telecom equipment. “An atomic bomb to crush a fly,” laments a source.
Arthur Dreyfuss, president of the French Federation of Telecoms (which defends the interests of Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom), says that “the envisaged device, as far as it can one day work, is a mechanism that no other State did not put in place. He adds that “through a discretionary prior authorization authority, targeting only operators and not equipment manufacturers, the government will be able to predict the engineering of the networks, their design, the individual coverage strategy of operators through information collected upstream by the administration”. According to him, this situation is intolerable: “we are totally opposed to such a mechanism, dubious and wobbly in legal and constitutional terms”, he concludes.
Operators are also concerned that the state may impose on them the choice of their suppliers. The text provides for an obligation of the diversity of suppliers. In other words: if in a given geographical area, there is a majority of Nokia infrastructures, the authorities will be able to force the operators to do without their services when they want to install a new antenna. “We have made professors of constitutional law work on the subject and they are unanimous on the non-proportionality of the means as to the goal sought,” says a manager of an operator. The negotiations are not closed and the text can still evolve before the discussion in public session which will take place at the end of June.