December 22, 2019 / 1:40 PM / 2 months ago

Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy: Industry minister

FILE PHOTO: Huawei's first global flagship store is pictured in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Chinese telecoms firm Huawei should be allowed a role in Italy’s future 5G network, the Italian industry minister said on Sunday after an influential parliamentary committee called on Rome to block the company.

The United States has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using Huawei equipment in their next generation networks and to closely scrutinize rival ZTE, saying the companies could pose a security risk.

Both companies have strongly denied there is any such risk.

“We have passed legislation that guarantees national security. With the right defenses, the possibility of (Huawei’s) access is not up for debate,” minister Stefano Patuanelli, part of the ruling 5-Star Movement, told La Stampa daily.

Last week, Italy’s parliamentary security committee Copasir said the government should consider preventing Huawei and ZTE from taking part in the development of 5G networks.

Italy’s biggest phone group Telecom Italia (TIM) is in the process of choosing suppliers to upgrade its network infrastructure and Huawei is among possible contenders.

Cabinet undersecretary Riccardo Fraccaro, also a 5-Star member, said on Friday that the government would not be able to ignore the opinion of Copasir.

But Patuanelli said on Sunday that “Huawei offers the best solutions at the best prices”.

“One cannot fly the flag of the market with one hand and that of protectionism with the other,” he added.

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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