A 5G collaboration project between the European Union and China is going ahead as planned, despite calls to ban Chinese telecoms companies from the EU network, according to the head of the European side of the project.
Uwe Herzog, coordinator of the 5G-Drive project, said: “The basis for our collaboration is the research collaboration framework agreed between the EU and China, which continues to be valid and honoured by both sides.
“Thus, we are not concerned that the 5G-Drive project and its research collaboration with its Chinese twin project will be affected by current political discussions on 5G deployment.”
The 20-month project, part of the EU’s €80bil (RM369bil) research programme Horizon 2020, is designed to test and validate the interoperability of the European and Chinese 5G networks.
The Chinese side of the project is coordinated by China Mobile, with project partners including Huawei. The project will focus on sites in Italy, Finland and Britain, and five in China – Hangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, Suzhou and Guangzhou.
The European side is being led by the German-based telecommunications research and development firm Eurescom and involves 17 partners from 11 countries, including industry, mobile operators, BMW, SMEs, research institutes, academia and consulting partners.
China and the EU signed an agreement in 2015 to cooperate on 5G technology, conduct joint research and promote standardisation, as part of a public-private partnership launched by the EU.
Brussels promised to provide €700mil (RM3.2bil) in government funding by 2020, with a further €3bil (RM13.8bil) to be raised by industry.
But Chinese telecoms firms, especially Huawei, have come under intense pressure amid growing concerns about security.
A number of European countries have banned or are considering banning Huawei and ZTE from involvement in their 5G networks, with Italy becoming the latest to consider such a step.
Chinese diplomatic observers said trade, investment and scientific cooperation between China and the EU would be affected if the ban was imposed.
But Herzog said the 5G-Drive project should not be drawn into the controversy as it was not involved in commercial 5G deployments, instead aiming to enable Europe and China to identify implementation problems during pre-commercial deployment.
“The conversations with our Chinese partners on the joint work are pleasant, constructive and productive. The discussions currently focus on preparing the joint trialling activities and the required coordination and synchronisation,” he said.
“The only pressure the 5G-Drive project is experiencing is caused by the heavy workload and organisational challenges associated with preparing the joint 5G trials,” Herzog said.
“Eurescom has not experienced any other type of pressure in this research cooperation with China,” he added. – South China Morning Post