Despite being excluded from the 5G roll-out, Huawei’s equipment will continue to be used in Norway’s 4G network. The Chinese company has come under increased pressure from the United States, trapped in a wider economic and political dispute between two superpowers.
Norwegian telecom giant Telenor has picked Sweden’s Ericsson as the key vendor for its 5G radio access network.
The state-operated Norwegian company – the country’s first 5G mobile operator – said in press release: “We expect 5G to be the one technology that will transform our society the most in the next decade.”
This process is expected to take 4 to 5 years. Until it is completed, Telenor will be using Huawei gear to maintain the existing 4G network and upgrade to 5G coverage in “selected areas” of Norway. Telenor will be phasing out the use of Huawei network in Norway at the same time.
As the world’s largest telecom equipment provider, Huawei has been seeking to participate in the lucrative 5G build-up across the globe. However, the US has moved to quash those ambitions and lobbied its allies to block Huawei from 5G, claiming that the firm is spying on behalf of the Chinese government.
Huawei has rejected those allegations and said it was willing to sign no-spy agreements with foreign governments. The US has yet to turn up any credible evidence of espionage on the part of Huawei.
Some countries, including Japan and Australia, have banned Huawei from their 5G networks. Others, like Germany and France, openly refused to cave in to US pressure.
This week, Germany’s second-largest mobile phone company Telefonica Deutschland picked Huawei, alongside Nokia, to build its 5G network. In October, Swedish telecom company Telia sidelined Huawei and partnered with Ericsson, while Vodafone allowed the Shenzhen-based company to supply non-core components of its 5G network infrastructure.
Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) suggested this year that companies from countries that don’t maintain close security cooperation with Norway should be shut out of the national 5G market.
Relations between Norway, a NATO member, and China, a key political and economic rival of the United States, ran into a setback after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Oslo and Beijing formally brought their political and diplomatic ties back to norm only in late 2016. This July, however, Norway joined a string of countries that sent a joint letter to the UN Human Rights Council condemning China’s over the suspected mistreatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and other minority groups, which Beijing denies.