Amid pressure from the United States to exclude the Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei from supplying key telecoms equipment, wireless service providers Orange and Proximus have chosen to partner with Nokia for the construction of state of the art next generation 5G mobile networka in Belgium.
The two commercial operators are the first in Europe to exclude Huawei from setting up of the -generation networks and was preceded by diplomatic pressure from Washington for months. The US alleges that the equipment supplied by Chinese firm could be used for spying by Chinese agencies.
The head quarter of the NATO alliance and the European Union’s executive and parliament Are located in the Belgian capital Brussels which has made the issue particularly important for intelligence agencies of the US.
“Belgium has been 100% reliant on Chinese vendors for its radio networks – and people working at NATO and the EU were making mobile phone calls on these networks,” said John Strand, an independent Danish telecoms consultant.
“The operators are sending a signal that it’s important to have access to safe networks.”
The decisions made by Orange Belgium and Proximus, which have a network sharing agreement was naturally welcomed by the United States.
“This is the latest example of evaporating Huawei deals and further confirmation of this worldwide momentum towards trusted vendors,” said Keith Krach, the U.S. undersecretary at the State Department for economic growth, energy and the environment.
All US allegations of espionage and the company being a threat to national security have been repeatedly refuted by the biggest telecoms equipment supplier of the world Huawei. The US has been targeting the firm in te US as well as outside and called for banning the company from 5G contracts.
Huawie said that it accepted the decisions by Orange Belgium and Proximus, the re4ports of which were available in the media previously.
“This is the outcome of a tender organised by operators and the result of the free market,” a Huawei spokesman said.
“We embrace fair competition, the more diversified a supply chain the more competitive it becomes,” he said, adding Huawei had been supplying equipment in Belgium for more than a decade and its commitment remained unchanged.
After the decision by Orange Belgium and Proximus, the only mobile carrier in Belgium yet to take a decision about which vendor to work with for its 5G telecom network construction is Liberty Group’s Telenet. Currently, equipment made by China’s ZTE is used by Telenet and it has announced that it plans to take a decision on its 5G network construction in the first half of 2021.
Niokia, which has found it a struggle to make headway in the 5G market earlier this year, would get a boost by the deals to supply radio gear to Orange Belgium and Proximus.
“I have tried to become RAN (radio access network) supplier to Orange Belgium since 2003 when the company was still Mobistar. Here we are, finally,” tweeted Tommi Uitto, president of Nokia Mobile Networks.
(Adapted from Investing.com)