Belgium pressured to replace Huawei products in 5G rollout
Friday, 09 October 2020
Telecom operators Proximus and Orange will gradually replace the telecommunications equipment of China’s Huawei with products from Finland’s Nokia, sources close to the case told Reuters press agency on Thursday.
Huawei is accused by the United States of spying for the Chinese government but the company always refuted these accusations. Just last month, it said European policymakers were under strong pressure from the US to restrict Huawei’s participation in European 5G markets.
According to sources quoted by Reuters, Belgian telecom operators are also under political pressure to give up Huawei’s infrastructure.
Such a decision would have been taken jointly by Orange and Proximus because the two companies share their network. However, Orange did not want to comment on this information to Reuters while Proximus was not immediately available for a response.
Contacted by Belga News Agency, Proximus neither denied nor confirmed the information. However, it is planning a press conference on Friday to “take stock of Proximus’ mobile network strategy and development for the coming years.”
American intelligence services are reportedly concerned about spying on China in Belgium, given the presence in Brussels of the EU institutions and NATO headquarters.
The National Security Council had decided at the end of June to protect future 5G critical infrastructure from “risky” suppliers. This was to be done by “imposing strict security conditions to avoid any undesirable use,” explained Philippe De Backer, who was Telecommunications Minister at the time. However, Huawei was never mentioned by name as a problem.