Fearing high-tech espionage, and battling with China over trade, the United States has pushed NATO allies such as Norway to exclude Huawei from lucrative 5G deals, and Norwegian security services also warned against the firm.
“The 5G era is here. This will be the one technology that will most transform our society in the next decade,” Telenor Chief Executive Sigve Brekke tweeted as he announced that Ericsson will build the 5G radio access network (RAN).
He said Telenor had carried out an “extensive” security evaluation as well as considering factors such as technical quality, innovation and modernisation of the network.
“Based on the comprehensive and holistic evaluation, we have decided to introduce a new partner for this important technology shift in Norway,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Ericsson said the company was “very proud” to be chosen as a partner by Telenor but declined to comment further.
State-controlled Telenor is Norway’s biggest telecoms provider, and is active in the rest of the Nordic region as well as five Asian countries, serving some 183 million customers.
The use of Huawei network components in Norway will be phased out over a 4-5 year modernisation period, the head of Telenor Norway, Petter-Boerre Furberg, told Reuters.
Huawei has rejected claims that its 5G networks could be used as spy tools, and China has accused Washington of using security arguments to further politicise a conflict that is fundamentally about trade.
On Wednesday Telefonica Deutschland picked Nokia of Finland and Huawei to build its 5G network, seeking to get work moving even though Germany has yet to finalise security rules on equipment suppliers.
The matter is also a sensitive one for Sino-Norwegian diplomatic relations, which were only re-established in 2016 after being frozen for six years over the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident.
Norway’s PST security police has said only companies from nations with which Norway has close security cooperation should be allowed to supply 5G technology. Norway has such cooperation with neighbours Sweden and Finland, but not with China.
Two smaller firms, Ice and Telia, have picked Nokia and Ericsson respectively for their Norwegian 5G networks.
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