December 7, 2020

By Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Huawei is willing to meet any requirement the Swedish government may set on 5G network equipment and take other measures to mitigate concerns, a senior executive said, after a ban in the country delayed spectrum auctions.

In a surprise move in October, Sweden’s telecom regulator PTS banned the use of equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE by telecom operators taking part in the 5G auctions. Huawei won a court injunction and an appeal by PTS is pending.

“We are even willing to meet extraordinary requirements, such as setting up test facilities for our equipment in Sweden, for example, if they want to,” Kenneth Fredriksen, Huawei’s Executive Vice President, Central East Europe and Nordic Region, told Reuters.

“We are now in the middle of the court process, but we are willing to have pragmatic discussions.”

European governments have tightened controls on Chinese-built 5G networks following pressure from Washington, which alleges Beijing could use Huawei equipment for spying. Huawei has denied being a national security risk.

The court cases around the issue could delay the spectrum auction further and derail 5G deployment in Sweden, which was the second country after Britain to impose a ban.

“I can’t give you a concrete plan, but of course we will fight for our rights,” Fredriksen said.

Many European telecom operators have used Huawei equipment to build their 4G networks, and it is easier and cheaper to build 5G network using support from an existing infrastructure.

PTS decided on the ban after judgments from the armed forces and Swedish Security Services (Sapo), and has decided to postpone the auction until the court of appeal has ruled, a spokesman said.

The appeals court has yet to set a date.

Huawei said that, until the early part of this year, the government had no problem with the use of its equipment.

Telecom operator Tre, which has signed contracts with Huawei for building its network in Sweden, has also filed a lawsuit against the banning of the Chinese firm.

During talks with PTS in the last 12 months on Huawei as a provider, nothing indicated a total ban, a source at Tre told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

PTS said it had made a preliminary examination of the applications for the auction in accordance with legislation that came into force on Jan 1.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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