Mobile industry body GSMA urged European policy makers and operators to work together to safeguard the security of network infrastructure without jeopardising 5G supply chains, as concern grows over the future of vendors in major global markets.

In a statement, the association declared it is time for regulators to take “a fact-based and risk-based approach” to network security, or risk jeopardising the success of 5G rollout in Europe.

The statement comes as European authorities weigh action to block Chinese vendor Huawei from their telecommunications infrastructure amid security concerns. Huawei has strenuously denied it poses a threat.

By 2025, mobile operators are expected to invest between €300 billion and €500 billion on the roll out of 5G across Europe.

GSMA warned actions which disrupt the network equipment supply “will increase costs to European operators, businesses and citizens; delay 5G deployment by years across Europe; and potentially also jeopardise the functioning of existing 4G networks upon which 5G is intended to be built.”

Last month it was reported that Deutsche Telekom believes Europe’s 5G rollout could be delayed by at least two years if governments on the continent implement a ban on Huawei.

Along with Germany, France and Norway have also said they are considering a ban on Huawei. In the UK, Vodafone Group said in January 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.

No evidence of wrongdoing
While the GSMA noted extensive government and operator testing has “not discovered any evidence of wrongdoing” to date, it stated operators “stand ready to work with policy makers now to agree on further proportionate and risk-based methods, not least a common, consistent and agreed security assurance, testing and certification regime for Europe.”

The GSMA said it will build on its existing security work and is assembling a task force of European operators to identify ways to enhance and extend current schemes. It also recommends that governments and mobile operators work together to agree what this assurance testing and certification regime for Europe will be, “so that it ensures confidence in network security while maintaining competition in the supply of network equipment.”