The Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has lost out in the race to supply Norway’s 5G infrastructure for the second time.
Just a few months ago, Telia dropped Huawei in favor of Ericsson when choosing the supplier of their next-generation mobile network infrastructure. Now the Norwegian giant Telenor has done the same.
With over 180 million customers in nine countries in Europe and Asia, Telenor’s decision is a notable one. It’s been widely reported by media around the world.
Last week Telenor announced the long-awaited decision on which 5G supplier they would turn to for a nationwide rollout. Despite security concerns, Huawei were reportedly in the running. But on Friday, Telenor announced Ericsson as the winner.
Although the contract is a very lucrative one, the terms of the deal are unknown. It’s also uncertain that Ericsson will be able to deliver all Telenor's mobile networks around the world. According to Telenor, the upgrade of Norway’s network will take up to five years.
Huawei still involved in Norway
However, Huawei won’t disappear from Norway just yet. Telenor will use Huawei equipment to maintain the existing 4G network. A company statement also confirmed that Huawei equipment could be used to upgrade the 5G coverage in certain parts of a Norway on a temporary basis.
“This is to ensure that Telenor's customers have the best mobile experience and can still benefit from being on a fast and reliable mobile network while modernization is going on,” Telenor writes in a statement.
The decision comes just two months after Telia launched its 5G plan for Norway and Ericsson became their supplier. A third Norwegian company, Ice, also chose to remain closer to home. They plumped for Nokia.
The decision is bound to interest politicians around the world. That’s because Huawei is central to the ongoing political conflict between the US and China. American and European authorities have been openly critical of the Chinese company. Hey argue that Huawei equipment could be used by Chinese authorities for monitoring or disrupting key infrastructure.
Huawei has repeatedly rejected the claims. Earlier this year a spokesperson claimed they were confident of winning the Telenor contract.
The Norwegian authorities have not issued any guidance to the country’s mobile networks on choosing suppliers, at least not publicly. There has, however, been an ongoing dialogue and security is listed as one of the key criteria.
“It is the companies that choose their supplier. On a general level, the vulnerability to unintentional errors is reduced by the choice of different suppliers,” said a Norwegian government spokesperson earlier in the year. “We have not made demands on the telecoms companies to choose different suppliers. They have to make their own independent assessments.”
How Ericsson was chosen
Telenor Norway CEO Petter Børre Furberg said at the press conference that all the major suppliers were considered. “We have done a comprehensive security analysis of all the suppliers and we are pleased to announce that the supplier we have chosen is Ericsson,” he said.
He said the criteria used to decide included technical quality and the ability of the suppliers to drive innovation and modernisation of Telenor’s network in the future. He added that commercial terms (including price) and security were also factors.