Deutsche Telekom diversifies suppliers as Huawei debate grows

CEO said policymakers had made a decision not to impose upfront bans on vendors for political reasons, but "we should never allow dependence on one provider"

by Reuters
Deutsche Telekom diversifies suppliers as Huawei debate grows
Timotheus Hoettges, CEO of Germany's telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom, addresses the company's annual news conference in Bonn, Germany, in February 2020. Photo: Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters.

Deutsche Telekom said on Thursday it was diversifying its suppliers of equipment to build its 5G networks as debate continues in Berlin over whether to bar China's Huawei Technologies from the German market.

CEO Tim Hoettges made the comments as officials finish crafting legislation on rules to assess vendors' fitness to equip German networks, which would be subject to a government review whose terms have yet to be agreed.

Hoettges said policy-makers had made a conscious decision not to impose upfront bans on vendors for political reasons. Even so, the Bonn-based group was broadening the supplier base serving its European operations.

"Regardless of politics, we should never allow dependence on one provider," Hoettges told reporters on a conference call after Deutsche Telekom published strong second-quarter results.

Huawei is the main supplier of radio access equipment for Deutsche Telekom's new 5G network in Germany – a relationship that has been criticised by some lawmakers who view the Chinese firm as a national security risk. Huawei says its gear is safe.

But, taking all the European countries where it does business together, Deutsche Telekom's supplier base is broader. It relies on US suppliers for 30% of all technology purchases, with European and Chinese suppliers accounting for 25% each.

Hoettges also called for the use of open, cloud-based technology for networks – known as OpenRAN – to be anchored in German legislation as this would be important for Deutsche Telekom's future network development.

Reuters