These moves are among the first steps taken by commercial operators in Europe to drop Huawei from next-generation networks, and it comes after months of diplomatic pressure from Washington, which alleges that Beijing may use Huawei equipment for espionage.
The Belgian capital, Brussels, is home to the European Union’s executive and parliament, making it a particular source of concern for US intelligence agencies.
“Belgium was 100 percent dependent on Chinese vendors for its wireless networks – and people working in NATO and the European Union were making phone calls on these networks,” said John Strand, an independent Danish communications consultant. “The operators are sending a signal that it is important to have access to secure networks,” he added.
Huawei – which is the world’s largest supplier of telecoms equipment – vehemently denies the US allegations and has strongly criticized calls to be banned from 5G contracts. However, on Friday, the company said: It has accepted Orange Belgium and Proximus decisions.
“This is the result of a tender organized by the operators and a result of the free market,” a Huawei spokesman said. “We adopt fair competition, the more diversified the supply chain, the more competitive it becomes,” he added, adding that Huawei had been supplying equipment to Belgium for more than a decade and its commitment remained unchanged.
The deals to supply radios to Orange Belgium and Proximus are seen as a boost for Nokia, which struggled to advance in the 5G market earlier this year even while Huawei was under pressure.
(Tommy Oito) – Head of Nokia Mobile Networks – tweeted: “I have tried to become a RAN supplier for Orange Belgium since 2003 when the company was still called Mobistar. In the end we did it. ”
Belgium and Proximus did not disclose the value of the contracts. But they said: Ericsson will provide the core of 5G networks.
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