France pushes for 5G 2020 launch, despite Huawei challenges

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The French regulator Arcep sticks to 2020 deadline; Huawei claims 5G equipment is "tailor-made for Europe".

Last week the US put Huawei on a list of companies that American companies cannot trade with without a specific licence.

While the US is not a big market for Huawei’s telecoms equipment, the move could lead to the US also applying more pressure to key European markets, or to operators rethinking their 5G vendor strategy.

Limited impact

This week, Sebastian Soriano, head of France’s Arcep, said, “For me it will have a limited impact,” Reuters reports. He added that no French telecom operator depends solely on Huawei equipment for network coverage in major cities.

“We are aiming for a commercial launch of 5G in 2020,” he said, noting that Arcep would be ‘lenient’ on operators who decide to switch equipment providers.
Spending up, revenue slips

The comments came as Arcep published its annual scorecard, which aims to provide a snapshot of the French telecoms market.

The report finds that in 2018, French operators invested €9.8 billion euros (excluding spending on frequencies) – €200 million euros more than in 2017. Investments have increased by 40% over four years, Arcep noted, welcoming the boost which it said is “vital to meeting the country’s needs”.

The investment was mainly linked to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) roll-outs.

This increase in spending was accompanied by a slight decrease in operators’ revenue (-1% in 2018), due to a dip in fixed services revenue, although mobile services revenue was up for the first time in eight years.

Maintaining momentum

Arcep called on operators to maintain their investment momentum. A statement said, “Sustaining the steady pace of fibre roll-outs and deploying 5G infrastructure will require an unflagging effort.

"The resulting opportunities could be growth outlets for operators: not only the business market, but also 5G networks with smart cities, Industry 4.0 and connected vehicles.”

Commitment

At a debate held in Brussels at the Huawei Cybersecurity Transparency Centre earlier this week, Abraham Liu, Huawei's chief representative to European Union Institutions, stated. "Huawei's 5G has been co-developed by Europeans and is tailor-made for Europe's needs and challenges.

"Huawei's 5G solution is not just the best on the market but it is, to a large extent, a European product, and it's tailor-made for Europe's needs."