Huawei’s chances in Israel slipping away
As one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, Israel has taken its time when it comes to 5G.
After initially being postponed at the end of last year, last week Israel finally awarded its telcos 5G frequencies, following an auction which saw spectrum in the 700, 2100, and 2,600–3,800 MHz bands. Each of the countries three major operators — Cellcom, Pelephone, and Partner Communications — won spectrum, though the process itself was problematic; Cellcom, who paid the most for its spectrum, is set to appeal to the High Court of Justice, arguing that its rivals were able drive up its bid without having to raise their own.
But it is not only delays to the 5G spectrum auction that see Israel in 5G limbo right now. The country currently finds itself at the centre of the geopolitical clash between China and the US, with the latter pressuring it to ban Huawei from its 5G networks.
Just last week, Reuters confirmed that reports of Israel nearing a deal with the US to ban Huawei were true, with a US official saying an agreement would be signed “within weeks”. Israel is one of the US’ key partners in its Clean Network initiative, according to the US State Department, which seeks to eliminate companies it deems a security risk from every aspect of its connectivity infrastructure.
However, Israel’s official decision itself has yet to be announced, with a spokesperson from the Israeli embassy in China telling the Global Times that "the overall issue is still under consideration."
China has expressed outrage at the US’ Clean Network strategy and continued meddling with other nation’s 5G choices, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying in a press release that such interfering was “creating cliques [that] won’t be conductive to 5G progress.”
However, the reality of the situation is that Israel values its relationship with the US far more than that with China. Combine this with the relative lack of reliance on Huawei equipment in Israel’s existing networks, and the Chinese giant’s future in the country seems dubious at best. The US’ aggressive foreign policy appears likely to bear fruit, at least as far as Israel is concerned.
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