Europe’s 5G rollout could be delayed by at least two years if governments in the continent implement a ban on Huawei, leading operator Deutsche Telekom found.

An internal assessment conducted by the Germany-based operator and viewed by sources at Bloomberg, showed a possible ban of the under-fire equipment vendor has made Europe’s telecoms industry nervous and could throw network expansion plans into chaos.

Huawei is currently a leading equipment supplier in the region, with the vendor set for lucrative contracts to help operators build and develop 5G infrastructure.

Sources said that 5G networks must be built on top of existing 4G infrastructure, some of which was supplied by Huawei.

A ban on the vendor could therefore mean operators would have to remove all their existing equipment, resulting in a huge delay and a cost in the billions of euros.

European governments are considering bans on Huawei, following action already taken by the US, Australia and New Zealand over national security concerns.

Notably, Australia and New Zealand have not implemented a retroactive ban on the vendor, only prohibiting the use of of 5G kit.

This week, the US stepped up action against the vendor, filing criminal charges alleging Huawei committed fraud, breached sanctions and stole intellectual property from T-Mobile US, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom.

Europe must act as one
News of Deutsche Telekom’s assessment comes as France’s European Affairs Minister, Nathalie Loiseau, said the region must act as one on Huawei, in relation to security concerns.

Speaking at a debate in Warsaw, Reuters reported Loiseau said each state cannot act alone and should take a collective stance toward the vendor.

Along with Germany, France and Norway have also said they are considering a ban on Huawei. In the UK, Vodafone Group said last week it was pausing installation of new Huawei core network equipment across its European operations. BT previously said it would remove kit made by the vendor in mobile operator EE’s core network within two years.