Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has signed a bill into law which effectively bars Chinese-backed companies including Huawei from supplying 5G network technology to Romanian operators based on security concerns. The enaction of the law – transposing the aims of a memorandum signed with the US in 2019 – was a prerequisite to Romania’s planned multi-band auction of 5G-suitable frequency licences scheduled for Q3 2021.
As reported by Economedia.ro, the 5G security bill had been approved by the Romanian Senate on 7 June 2021 with certain amendments, including a clause which allows network operators a maximum seven years to remove non-core equipment and software if a supplier’s authorisation is withdrawn by the Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT), increased from an initial proposed five-year limit. However, the mandated deadline for removing unauthorised core network technology remains at five years. The law says that 5G suppliers must have a ‘transparent shareholding structure’ and be ‘subject to a legal system that imposes transparent corporate practices’, whilst not having ‘a history of unethical corporate conduct’ nor be ‘under the control of a foreign government, in the absence of an independent legal system’. Huawei is not expected to win such authorisation, based on US sanctions currently imposed on it.
Under telecoms regulator ANCOM’s 2021 Action Plan published in February 2021, 5G-suitable spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1500MHz, 2600MHz and 3400MHz-3800MHz frequency bands is expected to be auctioned in Q3, while TeleGeography notes that three Romanian operators – Vodafone, Orange and DIGI – have provided 5G services since 2019 based on existing spectrum resources. This trio plus Telekom Romania currently use network equipment supplied by vendors including Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE alongside Scandinavian groups Nokia and Ericsson.