Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from future 5G networks

The move was taken after security service's assessment

Swedish regulators on Tuesday banned the use of telecom equipment from China's Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network ahead of the spectrum auction scheduled for next month, news wires reported. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said the setting of the licence conditions followed assessments by the Swedish Armed Forces and security service. Sweden's security service called China “one of the biggest threats against Sweden”.

European governments have been reviewing the role of Chinese companies in building their networks following pressure from the United States, which says they pose a security threat because, among other concerns, Chinese companies and citizens must by law aid the state in intelligence gathering. The UK in July ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain's 5G network by 2027, becoming one of the first European countries to do so. Earlier this month, Orange Belgium and Proximus decided to replace Huawei with Nokia as provider of radio access network gear for their shared 5G network in Belgium. As a reaction to the decision, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), a business group representing challenger telecoms operators in Europe, said in a statement that it “denounces any bans of Chinese 5G suppliers for geopolitical reasons and emphasises that such decisions can only be justified on the basis of well-established facts”.

Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision by Sweden, home to Ericsson, one of Europe's leading telecoms equipment suppliers.

PTS has approved the participation of Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom in the planned spectrum auction of 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz, key bands crucial for the rollout of 5G.

Tele2 and Telenor will participate together as Net4Mobility to secure spectrum for a joint nationwide 5G network. Tele2, which uses Huawei equipment in its network, which had earlier called Huawei an important vendor, said the PTS decision “does not change our plans substantially”. “We may have to phase different costs differently between years to meet security conditions on time,” a spokesman told Reuters. Sweden's ban is likely to benefit rival telecom equipment makers Ericsson and Finland's Nokia.

The 5G spectrum auction was originally planned for early 2020, but PTS delayed it due to a security review for November.

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