Nokia has been banned from setting up a 5G network in Romania. This shows what the situation in Poland would look like if the choice of network equipment suppliers was politicized. In this situation, is the confusion around the Russian surveillance system to blame? And why is geopolitics more important than cybersecurity?
Network equipment suppliers in Romania may be excluded. because
Romania’s Supreme National Defense Council (CSAT) has barred Nokia from building a 5G network in the country. Why? It is unknown. On what basis? It is unknown at the end. But maybe let’s start from the beginning.
In 2021, the Romanian National Cyber Security System passed a law comparable to our Act. Which arises in pain … and arises. As in our original law, Romanian law was created under pressure from the United States, primarily to eliminate Huawei.
The rules allow the premiere, approved by CSAT, to exclude a hardware and software provider from setting up a 5G network. The company must obtain the appropriate permit within four months of the submission of the application. The appeal is considered by a special council, including ministers, heads of services, the prime minister and the president. If the supplier is considered unsafe, its equipment must be disconnected within seven years, and in the case of a network core, within five years. Similarly, as in the draft Polish Act, in our case it was impossible to start the auction of 5G network frequencies without its adoption.
The entire CSAT approval process is completely confidential. The supplier accepts or does not accept them, and the only justification may be – becauseoptional – because no. And the same – because no now acquainted with Nokia.
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Nokia will not set up a 5G network in Romania. What was the reason?
Nokia decided to reject his application. Two companies of the Nokia Group – Nokia Solutions and Networks OY and Nokia Networks SRL. Why? It is not officially known. The company issued a brief statement The Romanian government has refused to allow the supply of 5G infrastructure equipment in Romania. Authorities declined to comment.
Nokia did not wait long and the case immediately went to the Bucharest Court of Appeals. Unofficially, the trial has already begun on March 25.
Officially, we do not know what could be the reason for the refusal. However, this coincides with recent reports that Nokia is helping to set up Russia’s SORM surveillance system. The company has openly stated that SORM is a legal system, but has denied this in official data. What to doubt. If we add Romania’s close relationship with the United States, as with Huawei, the issue is political. Especially when we look at which companies are already licensed to provide 5G network equipment.
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Geopolitics on cybersecurity
We have three major network equipment suppliers in the world. Huawei has been accused by the United States of spying for more than three years. To date, it has not been confirmed by the evidence presented to the public. However, the topic of the biggest campaign in the media is Huawei. He is accompanied by Nokia and Ericsson, who reportedly support Russian control. Which, according to the latest information, had to be paid by the Islamic State. Many media outlets, especially in Poland, are silent on the two incidents.
Now let’s see which companies have already received permission to build a 5G network in Romania. The first is Starc4Sys. We know about him that he has been operating in the Romanian market since 2013, and most of his staff are former servicemen. The company has previously participated in two tenders. The first is the modernization of the 112 emergency number system, and the second is the creation of a face recognition system for the Romanian police. Both tenders were held against the backdrop of corruption scandals.
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The second company to be approved is the Romanian company Juniper Networks, which is controlled by the American group Juniper Networks. Then there is the RO company, which provides security services and alarm systems, among others, provides IT equipment for the Israeli embassy, Leumi Bank and Concep Electronics, and others for the Romanian ministries.
Thus, we have a company involved in corruption in public tenders, a US supplier, a security supplier for the Israeli embassy and a company affiliated with the ministry. All are selected in a covert process and are recognized as secure suppliers of network equipment. So far, no large companies with experience in setting up mobile networks (Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Nokia) have been allowed. No company related to the open RAN market is allowed (yet, because the process takes four months).
All this shows the importance of transparency of such processes and their implementation on the basis of technical criteria, not geopolitical. Countries that have not yet held similar elections must look to others and observe their choices. There is a message from Romania about a secret and uncertain choice, let’s say strange providers (perhaps outside of Juniper Networks) and bypassing not only Chinese giants but also European giants. Why? Maybe because Finland (Nokia) and Sweden (Ericsson) are less sympathetic to NATO? These would be very strange cybersecurity criteria.