Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from 5G networks

  • Sweden’s regulator sets rules for spectrum auction
  • Four operators approved to bid
  • License conditions specify that Huawei and ZTE tech cannot be used in new builds
  • Any existing Huawei or ZTE installed tech must be swapped out by 2025

Sweden’s 5G operators have been told by the country’s regulator that they cannot use technology from Huawei and ZTE in their 5G networks and must swap out any existing tech from the Chinese duo by the start of 2025.

The ruling came as part of the license conditions set by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) associated with the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands that will start on 10 November with the 3.5 GHz band process. 

The PTS noted that its license conditions are based on assessments made by the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service of the network operators’ license bids. The conditions include:

·       The licence holder shall take necessary technical and organizational actions to safeguard that the radio use according to the licence does not cause harm to Sweden’s security.

·       New installations and new implementation of central functions for the radio use in the frequency bands must not be carried out with products from the suppliers Huawei or ZTE.

·       If existing infrastructure for central functions is to be used to provide services in the concerned frequency bands, products from Huawei and ZTE must be phased out 1 January 2025 at the latest.

·       If central functions are dependant of staff or functions placed in foreign countries, such dependencies must be phased out and, if necessary, be replaced by functions or staff placed in Sweden. This must be completed by 1 January 2025.

The “central functions” refer to the “radio access network, the transmission network, the core network and the service and maintenance network that are necessary to maintain network functionality and electronic communication services provided by the licence holder.”

The four operators approved for the auction are incumbent operator Telia, 3 Sweden (Hi3G Access), Net4Mobility (a joint venture of Telenor and Tele2) and Teracom. 

The news will be encouraging for Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia, which will expect to dominate the 5G contract awards in Sweden, though emerging alternative vendors from the Open RAN camp may also see this as an opportunity to develop business opportunities.

The decision is the latest blow to the international business prospects of Huawei and ZTE, which are finding themselves shunned in an increasing number of countries, including the UK. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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