A 5G sign is pictured at Huawei's booth at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai. File picture: Reuters/Aly Song
A 5G sign is pictured at Huawei's booth at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai. File picture: Reuters/Aly Song

Coronvirus puts 5G rollout on hold in Europe

By Isla Binnie and David Kirton Time of article published Apr 1, 2020

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Madrid - Spain will delay a planned auction of 5G spectrum due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government said.

As part of a Europe-wide drive to speed up the roll out of fast Internet and broaden coverage, Spain had been due to free up space in the 700 MHz band of its network by switching from analogue to digital terrestrial television by June 30.

One of the world's worst national outbreaks of the virus, which had infected 85 915 people and killed 7 340 as of Monday, constitutes force majeure, making it impossible to stick to that deadline, the government said in a statement.

Madrid has told Brussels it will set a new deadline for the 700 MHz band depending on the eventual end-date for emergency measures including restrictions on people's movements, it added.

Austria postponed a planned 5G auction last week, and the CEO of French group Iliad said one coming up in France would likely meet the same fate.

The auction for the 700, 1,500 and 2,100 MHz bands, which will provide data rates needed for autonomous driving and to connect machines and production sites, was initially planned for April.

 Huawei warned on Tuesday that 2020 would be its most difficult year yet due to American trade restrictions which dealt a blow to its overseas sales in 2019, and predicted the Chinese government would retaliate against the United States.

The world's largest maker of telecoms equipment issued the warning as it reported its weakest annual profit growth in three years. It said Beijing could hit back against U.S. measures to restrict chip sales to Huawei, by restricting sales of American products in China and by shifting to alternative suppliers in China and South Korea.

"The Chinese government will not just stand by and watch Huawei be slaughtered on the chopping board," Chairman Eric Xu told reporters at the launch of Huawei's annual report.

"Why wouldn't the Chinese government ban the use of 5G chips or 5G chip-powered base stations, smartphones and other smart devices provided by American companies, for cybersecurity reasons?"

Reuters

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