Italy’s government reportedly asked Fastweb to diversify its 5G suppliers
Italy has blocked a 5G equipment deal between Fastweb — the Italian unit of Swisscom — and China’s Huawei, reported Reuters. The decision was made last Thursday night and is being tied to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Italy last month, in which he described Chinese mobile telecoms technology as a threat to the country’s national security.
In response to Pompeo’s statements, Huawei rejected the accusations, and prepared its Italian unit to undergo “any scrutiny” to show that its technology was safe. That, however, did not save the Chinese company.
Reuter’s sources said that after vetoing the deal, Italy’s government asked Fastweb, who had selected Huawei as its sole supplier, to diversify its vendors.
While the U.S. has successfully persuaded a number of its allies to band Huawei from their core 5G networks, Italy had yet to do so, which makes this recent veto particularly notable and suggests that Rome’s position on the Huawei issue is evolving.
In fact, according to Reuters, government and industry sources have said that Rome is “adopting a more marked pro-U.S. line on 5G deals.”
In July, Telecom Italia (TIM), Italy’s largest mobile operator, neglected to offer an invitation to Huawei to compete for a contract to supply 5G equipment for its core network.
However, Huawei executive Luigi De Vecchis was careful to explain that TIM’s exclusion of the company was due to commercial and technical, rather than political reasons, adding that the two are still working together in other capacities.
“We respect the decision [by TIM], which is of a commercial not a political nature, that concerns one of the many parts of the network,” De Vecchis said in an interview. “Of course we’re sorry, it’s not a party, but we continue to work with TIM as well as with Vodafone and others.”