Czech network operator CETIN sees Huawei risks as manageable: newspaper

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic’s largest telecommunications network operator CETIN said risks related to technology of China’s Huawei Technologies were manageable and it had options to lower that risk, the daily Hospodarske Noviny reported on Thursday.

Huawei faces growing scrutiny around the globe over its ties to China’s government and allegations that Beijing could use its technology for spying. The Chinese firm denies the allegations.

The United States has urged allies not to use products made by Huawei.

CETIN supervisory vice chairman told the newspaper in an interview that it would not be good for competition if Huawei left the country because there were already few suppliers.

“The problem is there, but it is not the type of problem that (means) we would have to immediately stop operating Huawei technology,” Petr Slovacek said.

“It is possible to take additional steps to reduce risks related to this.”

The Czech cyber watchdog NUKIB issued a warning about potential dangers in using technology from Huawei and Chinese firm ZTE in December. That prompted state and private institutions to undertake risk analyses.

Slovacek, in CETIN’s first concrete comments following the NUKIB warning, told Hospodarske Noviny that the company took the warning seriously and expected to complete the analysis late March or early April.

A CETN spokeswoman confirmed the security analysis would be completed around the end of March but had no further comments on the matter.

“We must consider a supplier less reliable even when the opinion is not based on our own experience,” Slovacek said.

CETIN is owned by the PPF, the investment group of the richest Czech businessman Petr Kellner, and was created by a spin-off of mobile operator O2 Czech Republic.

The country is due to launch an auction for new-generation 5G frequencies in the second half of the year and the telecoms regulator CTU has said the Huawei issue does not threaten that.

The warning led the tax authority to exclude Huawei from a tender which was later canceled altogether.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said the situation should be addressed at a European level.

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Edmund Blair and Emelia Sithole-Matarise