Telecoms operators Orange Belgium and Proximus have decided to progressively replace Huawei-made mobile equipment in Belgium and Luxembourg with Nokia gear, Reuters reported. More about Belgium 5G below.
The operators, which share their mobile network in order to cut costs, had faced political pressure to drop Huawei as a network supplier following U.S. accusations that Huawei’s gear could be used for spying by Beijing.
In a first step, Orange Belgium’s 5G radio network will be associated with its existing core network – provided by Ericsson – which is already able to work with the 5G radio infrastructure in NSA (non stand-alone) mode. In parallel, Orange Belgium is preparing the future evolution of its core network to support 5G SA (stand-alone), in order to offer the full 5G end-to-end functionalities in a second step (eg. network slicing and guaranteed performance).
This will result in a state-of-the-art and future-proof mobile network to the benefit of its customers. It will also help Orange Belgium achieve its CO²-reduction objectives, thanks to the significantly increased energy efficiency of 5G infrastructures.
Orange Luxembourg, a subsidiary of Orange Belgium, also announces the selection of Nokia for the deployment of the 5G network in Luxembourg. With 5G, the Luxembourg subsidiary confirms its commitment to offer the best of connectivity to its customers and to support companies and start-ups in their innovation projects by already having the first zones covered by 5G masts by the end of this year.
Orange Belgium’s guidance on its expected benefits and implementation costs of the RAN sharing agreement with Proximus remains unchanged following the selection of Nokia.
Tommi Uitto President of Nokia Mobile Networks says: “We are proud to support Orange Belgium in building a cutting-edge Single RAN and 5G network in Belgium. As the sole radio supplier for this 5G network evolving to stand alone mode, we are providing Nokia’s AirScale radio covering the whole 3.5 Ghz spectrum, offering ultra-broadband to Orange subscribers. Our Single RAN technology also lowers the carbon footprint by supporting 3G, 4G and 5G radio units and thereby reducing the number of sites and antennas.”
Xavier Pichon, CEO of Orange Belgium, comments: “We are thrilled to start a new partnership with Nokia to roll out a best-in-class, energy-efficient and future-proof mobile radio access network in Belgium, based on the core network provided by Ericsson, in order to ensure the best user experience for residential and business customers, be it on 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G.”
The move by Orange and Proximus represents one of the first cases in Europe where commercial operators have dropped Huawei from their next generation mobile Internet, or 5G, networks in response to political pressure, the report said. Belgium 5G
China and Huawei deny the spying allegations. But Belgium’s capital Brussels is home to the European Union’s executive body and parliament, making it a strategic location and a matter of particular concern for U.S. intelligence agencies.
“There’s a growing concern about Huawei’s capacity to produce its equipment,” the source added, referring to the United States’ decision to cut off Huawei’s access to vital computer chips.
Nokia announced late last month it clinched a telecom network deal with Britain’s biggest mobile operator BT Group to supply 5G radio equipment. BT has already decided to remove Huawei from its mobile network.
Proximus and Orange’s Belgian division signed an agreement last year to share their mobile network.
Orange Belgium partnered with Huawei since 2007 for the deployment of its mobile network in Belgium and Luxembourg. Proximus chose the Shenzhen-based company in 2009 for the progressive upgrading of its network. Belgium 5G
Other European countries are moving towards greater restrictions on Huawei.