Huawei 5G faces setbacks in Europe

Sweden becomes latest country to ban Huawei, Italy blocks 5G deal

Huawei logo (Reuters photo)

Huawei logo (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Huawei was hit with two setbacks last week after Sweden and Italy made moves against the Chinese telecommunications firm’s 5G rollout in Europe.

Sweden announced on Oct. 20 it was banning kits made by Chinese telecoms companies Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network, according to Euronews. Swedish telecom regulator PTS said the ban is to “ensure that the use of frequencies does not endanger the security of Sweden.”

The regulator added that any Huawei or ZTE equipment already installed will need to be removed by Jan. 1, 2025. The decision was made after an assessment by Sweden’s armed forces and security services.

Last Thursday (Oct. 22), Italy prevented telecoms group Fastweb from signing a deal with Huawei to supply equipment for its 5G core network, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The decision was made after a cabinet meeting on Thursday, signaling the first time Italy has vetoed a supply deal with Huawei over its 5G core networks.

The government used its special vetting powers to block Fastweb, the Italian division of Swisscom, from carrying out the deal. “The government has vetoed the operation, asking Fastweb to diversify its suppliers,” a high-ranking government source told Reuters.

Several European countries have moved against Huawei or are considering moving against it after pressure from the U.S., which regards the telecom company as working hand-in-hand with Beijing’s surveillance state, Euronews reported. The UK decided to ban Huawei from its 5G network in July.

Unlike the UK and Sweden, France decided against a total ban on Huawei for its 5G network but is pushing French companies away from switching to the Chinese company. French operators already using Huawei 5G gear will have their operating authorizations limited to eight years, Euronews said.

Italy is following France by declining to implement an outright Huawei ban. A source from the prime minister’s office told Reuters that Rome wants to evaluate whether Huawei can play a part in 5G core networks.

European Commission officials have said that Sweden’s Ericsson or Finland's Nokia — rivals of Huawei — can provide the EU with 5G infrastructure.