Latvia sides with US in Huawei 5G fight

Take note – story published 3 years ago

On February 19 the Latvian government signed a declaration with the United States regarding 5G network security, according to Latvian Television's “Panorāma” news broadcast on February 19.

This is a signal to mobile network operators (MNOs) that it could be difficult to use technology produced by the Chinese company Huawei in building 5G infrastructure. Latvian MNO Bite had planned on cooperating with Huawei, but now indicates that the company is still unsure which company's technology they'll use. Estonia and Poland have already signed memoranda with the US promising to only use secure technology in developing 5G infrastructure.

“We're basically signalling one very elementary and simple thing – the Latvian government cares about our network security, which is also a Latvian national security issue,” said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity).

The declaration text is confidential, however Latvian Television has unofficial information that in the declaration Latvia commits to examine whether a 5G technology supplier isn't creating security risks. The declaration isn't aimed at any particular company and isn't legally binding, but Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (New Unity) didn't deny that it would affect companies using Huawei technology in creating 5G networks.

"These companies have to take into account that there will be certain questions at the moment when they'll want to cooperate with state structures, especially with those state structures that deal with security, foreign policy and issues of such level," said Rinkēvičs.

“We stress that for our critical IT infrastructure, especially the technology used by state structures, used by security structures, we choose those solutions, which we deem necessary,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister.

Bite has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei regarding using their technology in a 5G testing base station. Bite representative Una Ahuna-Ozola said that the company is developing a 5G network in cooperation with Latvian MNO Tele2, and that it's still unclear which company's technology will be used. Tele2 is also developing a parallel 5G network using Nokia infrastructure, according to company representative Oskars Fīrmanis. LMT is also using Nokia infrastructure for its network.

The US has long warned that Huawei has ties to Chinese intelligence services, and therefore that the company's technology could be used for spying operations.The company itself has denied these allegations.

As previously reported, US restrictions on China's Huawei will affect the development of 5G networks but won't change anything for the regular consumer, said Juris Binde, head of LMT in May 2019.

Binde said that as Huawei is one of the main developers of 5G infrastructure, anything that affects the company will affect the introduction of 5G networks. But LMT will not be affected, as it does not use Huawei's technologies.

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