The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in Germany has approved ZTE’s 5G NR gNodeB product under its NESAS certification programme, making it the first 5G NR product to obtain such a prestigious rubber stamp. The approval serves as an indication that the German government is taking a case-by-case approach when it comes to judging Chinese telecoms equipment and with Huawei now next in line for evaluation. Meanwhile, the US is taking increasingly punitive measures against Chinese tech firms such as Huawei, including imposing a ban on exports of US technology and removing their products from FCC certification programmes. This follows accusations of espionage that have been leveled against these tech giants by US authorities. However, the findings presented in Microsoft’s Digital Defence Report suggest that state-backed attackers are more likely to focus their efforts on breaching IT companies than telco networks. In fact, data shows that 53% of all attacks targeted IT vendors while only 11% of attacks were directed at telecommunications networks. ZTE’s NESAS certification is seen as a major step forward both for the company itself and its rivals who may be hoping to benefit from similar recognition if they can prove their security systems meet the requirements set out by German authorities. It also shows that there is still tremendous potential for Chinese technology companies to move closer towards mainstream acceptance.
The BSI’s approval of ZTE’s 5G NR gNodeB product is a clear sign that the German government is taking a more measured approach when it comes to evaluating Chinese telecoms equipment. This comes at a time when other nations, such as the US, are clamping down on Chinese tech firms by introducing export bans and removing their products from FCC certification programmes. The approval also shows that the German government is willing to look past accusations of espionage when making its own judgement, instead focusing on security measures in place to protect against external threats. With Huawei now next in line for evaluation, it will be interesting to see whether other Chinese technology companies can follow suit and gain approval from the German government. Either way, this is a significant step towards a more unified approach to security in the telecoms industry. Overall, ZTE’s NESAS certification serves as an example of how open-minded and measured the German government is when assessing Chinese technology companies.