Wary of uncertainty, Huawei expands business in Eastern Europe
While the US-China tech cold war rumbles on and the UK weighs up how much involvement Huawei should have in the country's 5G networks, elsewhere in Europe the Chinese tech giant is already implementing its technologies.
As of last month, a prime example of these developments is Greece, where pilot projects could help open up the southeast European 5G market to Huawei.
Recently, the Chinese telecom company tested two pilot 5G pilot networks in the Greek capital, Athens, and in the seaside city of Kalamata.
Huawei is running the pilot in Kalamata with Greek telecom provider Wind Hellas. By implementing the project, Kalamata becomes the first Greek city to experience the potential of 5G.
The 5G network in Kalamata now covers the central square and several important points in the city. First commercial use is expected to begin roughly two years from now.
According to Anastasios Bikos, a 5G cybersecurity architect with Huawei, Greece's cooperation with the Chinese giant represents a "tremendous historic opportunity for the country to take the lead in investing in new revolutionary 5G digital technologies".
Huawei has been investing in Greece for almost 15 years and commands a 50% share of the telecoms equipment market.
Bikos tells ZDNet that public debate on implementing 5G and the efforts of the governments and regulatory bodies in Greece and Cyprus are smoothing the shift from 4G to 5G.
Despite speculation that the US could ease some of the restrictions that President Donald Trump imposed on Huawei in May, the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing doesn't appear to be nearing its end.
That situation could spell trouble for Huawei's business in Europe. But in the case of Greece, Bikos points out that "no political issue should delay the 5G deployment, since no one, nor Europe, will benefit from that".
However, amid rising global privacy concerns related to 5G technology and especially Huawei as a 5G supplier, Greece has yet to address one crucial issue regarding the processing of personal data – the full implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Together with Slovenia and Portugal, the country is a part of the remaining trio of EU members that still haven't made the necessary domestic reforms to enact GDPR. The regulation is crucial for providing European citizens with better protection on the use of personal data.
Last month, the European Commission decided to refer the country to the European Court of Justice, for failing to incorporate GDPR into national law.
The Commission also called on the Court to impose a fine on Greece of €5,287.50 for each day that has passed since May 6, 2018 – the deadline set by Brussels on national governments to incorporate the directive.
Enacting the GDPR also means tighter data-protection rules when it comes to managing data on 5G networks. So the Greek authorities will soon have to consider the possibility that this could affect ongoing and future 5G projects with Huawei.