Nokia wins Orange Belgium's 5G contract, Huawei says fair competition

Supantha Mukherjee and Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters

Posted at Oct 09 2020 04:12 PM

The logo of French telecom operator Orange is pictured on the facade of the Belgian unit in Brussels, Belgium, May 10, 2016. Francois Lenoir, Reuters/File Photo

STOCKHOLM/PARIS - Orange Belgium has selected Nokia's radio gear to renew its networks and roll out 5G, the subsidiary of France's Orange said on Friday.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the telecom operator and local rival Proximus had decided to progressively replace Huawei-made mobile equipment in Belgium and Luxembourg with Nokia equipment.

While the United States is pressing allies to bar Huawei from 5G networks on security grounds, China and Huawei deny the spying allegations.

The Belgian capital Brussels is home to the European Union's executive body and parliament, making it a matter of particular concern for US intelligence agencies.

"This is the outcome of a tender organized by operators and the result of the free market," a Huawei spokesman said on the issue.

"We embrace fair competition, the more diversified a supply chain the more competitive it becomes," he said, adding that Huawei has been supplying equipment in Belgium for more than a decade and its commitment remains unchanged.

European Union members have sharpened their focus on so-called "high-risk" vendors. This subjects Huawei's governance and technology to critical scrutiny and is likely to lead other European operators to strip it from their networks, according to analysts.

Nokia and Swedish rival Ericsson have been the main beneficiaries of challenges facing Huawei.

From Bell Canada and Telus Corp in Canada to BT in the UK, the Nordic companies have been grabbing market share from the Chinese firm as telecom operators seek to remove any political uncertainty while building the next generation networks.

Orange Belgium said it would start its 5G radio network by connecting existing core infrastructure provided by Ericsson along with preparations for a standalone 5G network.

Proximus has also chosen Ericsson to supply the core of its 5G network in Belgium.

Nokia shares were up 2 percent in early trade on Friday.