Monday, 26 October 2020

Nokia steps in to fill Huawei’s 5G shoes for Orange Belgium and Proximus

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 09 October 20

Nokia continues to benefit from the maintained pressure on their Chinese rival, snapping up another pair of major 5G contracts

Yesterday, reports suggested that Belgian operator Proximus had begun the arduous process of gradually replacing Huawei equipment with that of Nokia. Today, it seems that Orange Belgium is set to do the same.   For Orange to follow Proximus here should come as no surprise – the two operators agreed to a mobile access network sharing agreement back in July 2019…

Yesterday, reports suggested that Belgian operator Proximus had begun the arduous process of gradually replacing Huawei equipment with that of Nokia. Today, it seems that Orange Belgium is set to do the same.
 
For Orange to follow Proximus here should come as no surprise – the two operators agreed to a mobile access network sharing agreement back in July 2019.
 
As the seat of the EU’s political power, Belgium has been one of the US’s key targets when it comes to their anti-Huawei drive. According to anonymous sources from Reuters, US pressure has been “profound”, but they also noted that Huawei’s ability to provide equipment in the wake of US sanctions was another major factor in the decision.
 
Huawei, for their part, accepted the replacement with grace, saying it was simply a result of the natural competitive environment between vendors. “This is the outcome of a tender organised by operators and the result of the free market,” said a spokesperson. Nonetheless, this is likely to be a sore spot for the vendor, since it has worked alongside Orange Belgium for 13 years, and alongside Proximus for 11.
 
For Nokia, this is yet another substantial win in a string of recent victories as Huawei’s grip on Europe begins to slip. Late last month, Nokia won a major contract with UK giant BT.
 
As is becoming the norm for operators, BT is expected to select another vendor in the near future to avoid complete reliance on Nokia for its 5G network. Indeed, it seems Proximus will do the same, with Ericsson announcing today that they have been selected to provide the core of the Belgian 5G network. This marks this Swedish company’s first major foray into the Belgian market.
 
Meanwhile, Belgium’s European neighbours continue to gradually lean away from Huawei. Germany is set to introduce a new cybersecurity law that will likely make working with the Chinese vendor untenable, while France is reportedly set to issue a de facto ban on the company’s mobile equipment by 2028.
 
 
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