5G for Europe
The coming 12 months will see roll out of 5G technology “gather speed” across Europe, predicts Chinese tech giant Huawei, but an “inclusive and facts-based” approach will be key to a successful deployment, reports Martin Banks.
Former European Commission vice president Viviane Reding was among 450 policymakers and representatives of business and industry who gathered at Brussels’ prestige Concert Noble on 4 February to celebrate the Chinese New Year at a Huawei-hosted event.
Reding, a former Luxembourg MEP, said 5G will have a “big impact” on Europe but cautions, “This impact needs to be understood properly so that the right policy responses can be formulated in good time.” She called on Europe to embrace global technology such as 5G but warned that “security and trust” were also vital.
Another keynote speaker, Abraham Liu, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU institutions, revealed that the company plans to set up manufacturing bases in Europe “so that we can truly have 5G for Europe made in Europe.”
Liu pointed out that this is the 20th year it has been operating in Europe, adding, “As Europe is set to take the decisive steps towards deploying 5G this year, there is an urgent need for action: achieving 5G leadership will require strengthened trust, global collaboration and common security standards.”
In a panel debate he and Reding discussed how companies like Huawei, which has dubbed 2020 “the year of 5G for Europe”, can “bring all elements” together and help policymakers, operators and technology providers to get Europe on track towards “speedy and inclusive” 5G deployment.
Another speaker, Marta Ortín Obón, spoke about DIVE Medical, the European start-up she co-founded in the ophthalmology sector using new Artificial Intelligence technology. She forecast that AI could become a “strong force for good” in the world, with Europe at the forefront of development.
Developed in collaboration between DIVE Medical and Huawei, Track AI is an easy-to-use, portable and affordable solution helping non-trained professionals identify visual disorders, in children as young as infants.
The event was timely coming following the release of the EU’s 5G security ‘toolbox’ which covers the entire “mobile eco-system”, including vendors, operators, service providers and authorities. Huawei also recently unveiled its 5G Security White Paper, which sets out 15 recommendations for achieving “fact-based trust.”
Liu said that as a “fully integrated part of Europe’s ICT ecosystem” his company is one of the “drivers” behind efforts to achieve 5G that is “truly European in every sense of the word.”
He also highlighted the “big role” that 5G and AI technology might play in making Europe more sustainable, by helping European governments achieve their emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.
He said, “20 years ago Huawei took its first steps in Europe by opening an R&D centre in Sweden. Since then we have grown – and so have our challenges. The journey has not always been easy and last year saw our staff tested more than ever before.
"A competitive market benefits everyone. The recent decisions by the UK Government and the EU with the toolbox enabling Huawei to continue to be a major participant in the 5G roll-out, support this" Abraham Liu, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU institutions
This year will probably be no different but that’s OK because we believe the trust that Europe has put in us up until now will be richly rewarded.”
Liu joined with Reding in emphasising the importance of trust and added, “In an interconnected world reliant on a global supply chain, trust can be based on the confidence that risk management is objective and transparent. “As Ursula von der Leyen recently said ‘new technologies will never mean new values’.
We share these values and we believe that it is these frameworks of trust that can mitigate the fears that surround the new technologies, including 5G.” The global supply chain, he noted, depends on “collaboration and building mutual trust,” adding, “Companies should be treated fairly and equally.”
He continued, “A competitive market benefits everyone. The recent decisions by the UK Government and the EU with the toolbox enabling Huawei to continue to be a major participant in the 5G roll-out, support this.
Their emphasis on a fact-based, fair approach to a multi-vendor model, founded on verification as well as trust is what we believe should be the standard globally.”
He added “The tech world and particularly the world of cyber security is increasingly entangled with geopolitical issues, trade negotiations, and diplomatic dialogue between nations. Politically motivated suspicion does not address the challenges ahead.
It’s my wish that Europe, the US and China invest more in political discussion to talk about collaboration and common rules.” Looking to the future Huawei, he said, wants to “partner with Europe, playing a major role in achieving its’ digital sovereignty and be even more integrated.”
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