The Italian government said there are no current indications of any potential security threat in order to ban these companies
Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) has issued a statement denying a local press report suggesting that the Italian government was planning to ban Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE from participating in the deployment of 5G networks in the country.
According to MISE, the Italian government does not have any proof of potential dangers to national security with these future 5G deployments.
Local newspaper La Stampa had reported that the Italian government was considering the implementation of legislation to ban the two Chinese vendors from Italian 5G contracts. The report, which cited government sources, also suggested that Italian authorities had been facing increasing pressure from the U.S. government to ban Huawei and ZTE over security concerns.
“With reference to press articles on alleged banning of Huawei and ZTE companies from Italy in view of the adoption of 5G technology, the Ministry of Economic Development denies its intentions to take any initiative in this regard,” MISE said.
The Ministry also said that national security is a priority and that it will adopt specific actions in the event that critical issues arise in the future.
Both Huawei and ZTE are currently very active in the 5G field in Italy — in some cases, in government-supported projects. In September 2018, Italian operators TIM and Fastweb, in partnership with Huawei, activated what they claim is the first commercial 5G base station in the city of Bari, the second city in the Bari Matera 5G project being supported by the Italian government.
TIM, Fastweb and Huawei used this opportunity to jointly demonstrate a total of ten 5G use cases at Fiera del Levante in Bari. These use cases focused on smart city and transportation, environment a, smart health, smart port, AR/VR, smart culture and tourism, smart roads and smart agriculture. In March 2018, the three partners had activated the first 5G antenna in the city of Matera as part of the Bari Matera 5G trial. The project enables the two Italian cities to be among the first areas in the world to be covered by 5G.
Last year, ZTE has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Rome City Council to take part in the forthcoming trials of 5G and future Wi-Fi technologies. Through its Italian subsidiary, ZTE said it had signed on to the “Roma5G” project and committed to building the network infrastructure needed for the development of new digital and smart city-focused services in areas such as tourism, mobility and video surveillance.
ZTE Italy had previously inaugurated a 5G innovation and research centre in the city of L’Aquila. The 5G center if part of a commitment to invest 500 million ($ 617 million) in the country over the next 5 years. The 1,000 square-meter 5G center will see Italian and Chinese experts working closely with the city’s university as well as local businesses and startups. The vendor will also partner with Rome’s Tor Vergata university to convert the hub into a training centre for future telecommunications engineers.