Norway has said it won’t ban its mobile operators from using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks.
An exclusion had been touted by the country’s former justice minister, but the government appears to have reconsidered, paving the way for Telenor to use Huawei's kit in its pilot.
“We have a good dialogue with the companies on security, and then it is up to the companies themselves to choose suppliers. We haven’t got any bans against any suppliers in Norway,” Nikolai Anstrup, cabinet minister responsible for Norway’s digital strategy told Reuters.
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Norway 5G Huawei
Such a position puts Norway at odds with the US – a key NATO ally. Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce effectively blacklisted the Huawei on national security grounds, preventing US-based firms from doing business with the Chinese mobile giant.
The ruling has impacted both Huawei’s smartphone and networking divisions, while the US is urging its allies to ban the company from participating in the rollout of 5G. Huawei has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, while the US has not provided any evidence to support its claims.
There is little support among European mobile operators for a ban on Huawei kit, which is often cheaper and more innovative than the competition. Meanwhile, the cost of stripping out Huawei equipment could run into the billions.
State-owned Telenor signed its first agreement with Huawei in 2009, a deal which was a major milestone in the company’s international expansion. Telenor is Norway’s largest operator and has a presence in both Europe and Asia.
It has just launched what it claims is Scandinavia’s largest pilot of 5G in the municipality of Elverum and plans to reach several locations by the end of the year. This includes the capital Oslo and the estimated 3,000-strong polar bear population of Svalbard, an island in the Arctic Ocean.
Telenor is using Ericsson kit for the time being, but Norway’s revised stance means it will be free to use Huawei equipment when it launches a commercial 5G service in 2020.
“Exploring this technology here in Norway means that we can learn, test and continuously improve as we gradually introduce 5G to our markets,” said Sigve Brekke, Telenor Group President and CEO.”