Poland’s state operator seeks leading role in 5G launch

February 19, 2019

By Anna Koper

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland should form a consortium of private and state companies to develop 5G network infrastructure to ensure lower costs and better protection from security threats, the chief executive of Poland’s state-owned telecom group Exatel said.

Along with other European countries Poland is rushing to keep pace with the installation of 5G services offering far faster data downloads, yet some implementation plans are being complicated by security doubts around Chinese equipment vendor Huawei.

“The problems of Chinese equipment manufacturers certainly increase awareness that the state should maintain a certain degree of control over the telecommunications infrastructure,”

Exatel CEO Nikodem Boncza Tomaszewski told Reuters.

“And this is guaranteed by the 5G wholesale operator model proposed by Exatel,” Boncza Tomaszewski said, arguing Exatel should have more say in how the likes of Orange Polska, Polkomtel (a unit of Cyfrowy Polsat), T-Mobile and Play Communications develop 5G networks in Poland.

Poland’s government is considering a ban on Huawei products following concerns over potential cybersecurity threats.

“The best organizational formula … would be to establish the company by Exatel (with) private mobile operators, possibly other state companies with telecommunications needs such as energy and railway companies,” Boncza Tomaszewski said.

The Exatel chief said initial meetings had been held with operators last year but the approaches had not yet led to any formal offers.

Orange Polska told Reuters it did not see the need for a wholesale operator to be launched for the 5G network as the current model of building mobile networks by major operators had worked well.

“However, we do not rule out cooperation between operators for the 700 MHz band on the basis of voluntary decisions of individual operators,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

Poland’s other leading telecom operators – T-Mobile, Polkomtel and Play – did not respond to requests for comment.

Cyfrowy’s main shareholder Zygmunt Solorz was quoted as saying earlier this month by Rzeczpospolita daily that Poland should consider building one 5G network in order to implement it fast and effectively.

Boncza Tomaszewski said the consortium should oversee 5G network construction in Poland for the 700 MHz band, which is meant to cover the entire country, unlike other bands that will be available regionally.

(Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by David Holmes)

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