* Rome has so far declined to announce bans on Huawei
* But it is imposing costly conditions on 5G deals with
* Washington says Huawei may pose a security risks
* Huawei rejects U.S. charges, says it is ready for 'any
ROME, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Italy has prevented telecoms group
Fastweb from signing a deal for Huawei to supply
equipment for its 5G core network, three sources close to the
matter said, the clearest sign yet Rome is adopting a tougher
stance against the Chinese group.
The decision, made at a cabinet meeting late on Thursday,
marks the first time Italy has vetoed a supply deal over 5G core
networks with Huawei.
Visiting Italy in September, U.S. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo described Chinese mobile telecoms technology as a threat
to Italy's national security.
Huawei strongly rejects the charges, and its Italian unit
said it was ready to undergo any scrutiny to show that its
technology was safe.
However at Thursday's meeting, the government used its
special vetting powers to block Fastweb, the Italian unit of
Swisscom, from implementing a supply deal with the firm
in the most sensitive part of its fifth generation mobile
network, the sources said.
"The government has vetoed the operation, asking Fastweb to
diversify its suppliers," a senior government source told
Fastweb had picked Huawei as the sole supplier for its 5G
core network, sources said. Huawei and Fastweb both declined to
A source from the Prime Minister's office said Rome also
wants to evaluate whether Huawei can play a role in 5G core
While some U.S. allies, such as Britain, have announced bans
on Huawei equipment in future telecoms infrastructure, Italy has
so far declined to do so.
However, government and industry sources say Rome is de
facto adopting a more marked pro-U.S. line on 5G deals.
Italy raised hackles in Washington last year when it became
the first major Western economy to join China's international
infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative.
The tie-up has so far yielded little economic gain and the
government has recently opted for increasingly stringent
prescriptions over Chinese 5G suppliers, which is forcing
companies to be more cautious about dealing with Huawei.
Measures imposed by the government on firms using Huawei
equipment on their 5G network include restrictions on remote
interventions to fix technical glitches and an extremely high
security threshold, two industry sources have said.
Italy's biggest phone group Telecom Italia (TIM)
in July left Huawei out of an invitation to tender for a
contract to supply 5G equipment for its core network, where
sensitive data are processed.
Telecommunications companies operating in Italy have
introduced get-out clauses in 5G deals with Huawei, allowing
them to withdraw should Rome ask for costly requirements in
exchange for its green light, industry sources said.
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Elvira Pollina; Additional
reporting and editing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Jan Harvey)