LISBON, May 26 (Reuters) – Portugal’s CSSC cyber security council issued a resolution that could formally ban telecom operators from using Chinese equipment in their high-speed 5G mobile networks as well as the 4G platforms on which the new technology is based.
The CSSC is an advisory body to the prime minister and its May 23 document is another blow to efforts by Chinese tech giant Huawei ( HVT.UL ) to enter the 5G market in Portugal and possibly extend existing contracts.
Under a law passed last August, the government can order “exclusion, restrictions on use or termination of use of equipment or services” of telecommunications companies, setting conditions and deadlines that operators must comply with.
The government had no comment.
The country’s main operators, Altice, NOS ( NOS.LS ) and Vodafone ( VOD.L ) have already said they will not use Huawei equipment in 5G core networks, amid European and U.S. concerns that Chinese involvement in critical infrastructure could jeopardize security. Beijing and Huawei reject such proposals.
The existing 5G networks in Portugal are not standalone and are still mainly based on 4G technology and equipment.
Without mentioning China or any Chinese suppliers by name, the CSSC warned of a “high risk” to security from suppliers or providers that are “headquartered in a country where the government exercises control, interference or pressure on its activities in third countries”.
His opinion is based on an undisclosed report that assessed the security of equipment in public electronic communications networks that include 5G technology.
He also cited security risks when the country where the supplier is located does not have data protection, cyber security or intellectual property protection agreements with Portugal or the European Union, or when it is not a member of the EU, NATO or the OECD.
Huawei said in a statement that it had “no prior knowledge and was not consulted on this matter” and was still gathering information “about the nature of the assessment” and hoped to continue serving Portuguese customers.
Europe has emerged as a battleground in the technology rivalry between Beijing and Washington, and Huawei’s European rivals Ericsson ( ERICb.ST ) and Nokia ( NOKIA.HE ) could become a supplier duopoly if the Chinese company is shut out.
Reporting by Sergio Goncalves. Edited by Andrej Kalip and Mark Potter
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