ecta warns banning Chinese suppliers will damage Europe

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The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ecta) condemns any ban of Chinese 5G suppliers for geopolitical reasons.

The organisation insists that decisions to exclude vendors from markets must be based on well-established facts.

Alternative view

The pan-European pro-competitive trade association represents more than 100 “leading challenger telecoms operators” – that is not former incumbents – and digital solutions providers across Europe.

The heavy reliance of Europe's operators on Huawei equipment was laid out in a report from Strand Consult last autumn.

Its purpose is to support the regulatory and commercial interests of telecoms operators, ISPs & equipment manufacturers in pursuit of a fair regulatory environment that allows all communications providers to compete on level terms.

It insists that 5G Toolbox provides a suitable EU framework for responding to security issues affecting the networks of the future while respecting European and national sovereignty, and warns that Europe’s consumers and businesses could suffer adverse effects from unfair bans on vendors’ equipment.

Higher cost, less innovation

Its rationale is that the reduction of top-flight worldwide suppliers from five to three (by taking Huawei and ZTE out of the equation) will increase costs, result in worse network performance, delay the deployment of 5G networks and throttle innovation.

It will also have important wider socio-economic consequences such as reducing the capacity of enterprises, public institutions, civil society and individual end-users to offer new digital services and successfully drive growth and recovery.

As ecta points out, EU policy makers have rightly placed much emphasis on this capacity to secure Europeans’ future welfare.

Distorting competition

ecta says the bans on Chinese vendors’ equipment in communications networks could also impact the cohesion of the internal market.

The organisation and its members point out that preventing access to specific vendors, if it is not guaranteed on an equivalent basis for all operators, risks distorting competition.

These implications can materialise not only within individual Member States, but also across countries, giving some a comparative advantage through access to more advanced and efficient – and arguably cheaper – technologies.

For all these reasons, ecta says, “A future-proof approach to the security of Europe’s networks should remain both evidence-based and commercially sensitive, involve the operator community and avoid competitive prejudice that will destroy value.

“Standards, certification and legal rules need to come together to create a coherent framework that maintains electronic communications secure and affordable.”