Nokia Replaces Huawei for Belgian 5G Contracts

 A Finnish telecoms and electronics company, Nokia Corp. or Nokia has won a tender bet for Belgian’s 5G platform and agreed to build 5G networks for Belgian’s leading telecoms companies, Orange Belgium (Orange) and Proximus Group (Proximus). The latest move indicated a major setback for the Chinese tech giant, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., or Huawei, which had been supplying telecoms equipment to Belgium for more than a decade.

Although Huawei accepted the decision, the new development of the 5G contracts in Belgium was seen as a result of the United States’ (US) pressure against the Chinese company. Accusing Huawei of helping the Chinese government for spying, the US has been pressurizing its allies to scrutinize and exclude the firm from supplying key telecoms equipment and establishing 5G technologies.

Belgium’s moves set an example of growing anti-Huawei stances among the European countries and could have a major impact on Huawei’s next-generation network in Europe, as analysts explained. This was the first instance that telecoms commercial operators in Europe had rejected Huawei’s platform for 5G service.

Huawei Defeat in Belgium 5G

The defeat of Huawei in Belgium embarks a huge blow since Brussels is home to the European Union’s (EU) executive body and parliament and, considering the imperative of security policies, the US has a keen interest in keeping its intelligence agencies safe in the country. Analysts stressed that the EU members have been examining Huawei technologies closely considering the alleged security threats explained by Washington.

An independent Danish telecoms consultant, John Strand said, “Belgium has been 100% reliant on Chinese vendors for its radio networks – and people working at NATO and the EU were making mobile phone calls on these networks.” He added, “The operators are sending a signal that it’s important to have access to safe networks.”

Huawei has been repeatedly denying the US allegations and criticizing Washington’s policy to ban the company from 5G contracts. However, a Huawei spokesman said on Friday, October 9, 2020, that the company accepted the decisions by Orange and Proximus. The spokesman stated, “This is the outcome of a tender organized by operators and the result of the free market,” adding, “We embrace fair competition, the more diversified a supply chain the more competitive it becomes.”

Nokia’s Fortune of Replacing Huawei

Since many US-allied countries and telecoms operators started stripping of Huawei’s 5G networks, Nokia emerged as an alternative operator for the platform despite the Finnish company is relatively new to this service. Nevertheless, the deal with Orange and Proximus provided a significant opportunity to boost its 5G business as it finally started replacing Huawei’s position.

Following the deal, the president of Nokia Mobile Networks Tommi Uitto said on Twitter, “I have tried to become RAN (radio access network) supplier to Orange Belgium since 2003 when the company was still Mobistar. Here we are, finally.” Meanwhile, the companies have not yet disclosed the details of the contracts while Nokia shares were up nearly 3% in early trading today.

Ericsson would also supply a smaller slice of business of its 5G networks to Orange and Proximus. With the decline of Huawei’s presence in the 5g market, rivals including Bell Canada and Telus Corp in Canada to BT in Britain besides Nokia and Ericsson have emerged alternative platforms for the next-generation service.