German court opens way for 5G frequency race

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German telecoms companies will bid as planned for radio frequencies needed to operate future ultra-fast 5G mobile networks next week, after a court yesterday rejected their complaints about the process.

Judges at Cologne’s administrative court rejected requests from the three major network providers Telekom, Telefonica (O2) and Vodafone to delay the auction.

The companies had balked at government conditions for buyers of the radio spectrum to offer 5G service to at least 98 per cent of households as well as motorways and rail lines, which they said would be too expensive and complicated.

But the leap to the next-generation mobile standard is under pressure on other fronts in Germany, with the United States (US) urging Berlin to block operators from building networks on hardware from Chinese tech firm Huawei.

Arguing the equipment could help Beijing spy on Western companies and governments, US ambassador Richard Grenell this week warned Washington could throttle intelligence cooperation unless Berlin agrees a Huawei ban.

Huawei’s western Europe chief Vincent Pang told business daily Handelsblatt yesterday that “we would never build back doors into our devices or pass on data illegally”.

“We would also be ready to sign a no-spy-agreement with the German government,” he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday Germany would consult with the US over whether to use Huawei tech, but “define our standards for ourselves”.