Telefonica Germany says it plans to use Huawei equipment in its 5G network, enlisting the Chinese company even as a debate rages over whether its products pose a security risk.
The company’s announcement on Wednesday reflects the urgent need for mobile operators to start work on the super-fast networks despite the lack of clear rulings from European governments on whether the gear is safe to use.
The German government has not excluded Huawei from 5G networks, instead saying earlier this year that it would establish security standards that must be met by all vendors.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel still faces pressure from German politicians and the United States to take a stronger line on Huawei, which is the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and a major player in Europe.
Washington has alleged that Beijing could use Huawei products to spy on other nations. Huawei denies that its products pose a national security risk. The company did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Huawei’s networks business is proving resilient despite the US campaign. The company said in October that it has signed more than 60 commercial contracts for 5G with “leading global carriers.”
Telefonica Germany will only go ahead with the partnership once Huawei receives a security certification from Berlin, a company representative told CNN Business.
The company, which is owned by Spain’s Telefonica (TEF), is the second biggest mobile carrier in Germany where it operates under the O2 brand. It said it has also signed up Finland’s Nokia (NOK) to supply 5G equipment.
Work on Telefonica Germany’s 5G network is scheduled to start in the first quarter of next year. Customers in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt will be the first to gain access.
Telefonica Germany worked with Huawei and Nokia, among others, on its 4G/LTE network. Using multiple vendors kept the company from becoming too reliant on a single partner, the Telefonica Germany representative said.
The network operator also announced the expansion of its LTE network on Wednesday. Over the next two years, it expects to invest up to 18% of its revenues in the overall network expansion, including the 5G build-out.