Belgium telecom operators Proximus and Orange drop Huawei

Pierluigi Paganini October 10, 2020

Major Belgium’s telecom operator Proximus announced on Friday that it will gradually replace its equipment from the Chinese manufacturer Huawei.

One of the major Belgium telecom operator Proximus announced on Friday that it will gradually replace its equipment from the Chinese manufacturer Huawei. The company will replace the network equipment from the Chinese giant with products from the Europea vendors Nokia and Ericsson.

Orange Belgium is using Huawei equipment since 2007 for its mobile network in Belgium and Luxembourg, while the collaboration between Proximus and the Shenzhen-based company started in 2009 for the progressive upgrading of its network.

Network security is a top priority for the Belgian government, authorities, media highlights that the capital Brussels hosts the headquarters of the NATO alliance as well as the European Union.

Telecoms operators Orange Belgium also decided to progressively replace Huawei-made mobile equipment in Belgium and Luxembourg with Nokia gear, the Reuters revealed.

Proximus declared it made its choice “on the basis of technological, operational, financial and environmental criteria,”but the decision, according to sources cited by the Reuters, is the result of political pressure.

The two operators, which share their mobile network, had faced political pressure to replace the Huawei equipment. Proximus and Orange’s Belgian branch signed an agreement in 2019 to share their mobile network.

Orange and Proximus are the first commercial telecom operators in Europe to have dropped Huawei from their 5G networks in response to political pressure.

“There’s a profound insistence on the need to push Huawei towards the exit,” one of the two sources told the Reuters agency.

“There’s also a growing concern about Huawei’s capacity to produce its equipment,” the source added.

Huawei ban

The U.S. is pushing its allies for banning Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies, Washington highlighted the risks for national security in case of adoption of Huawei equipment and is urging internet providers and telco operators in allied countries to ban Chinese firms.

The Chinese giant was already excluded by several countries from building their 5G internet networks. The United StatesAustraliaNew ZealandRomania, and Japan announced the exclusion of Huawei technology for their 5G internet networks.

In April 2018, the UK GCHQ intelligence agency warned UK telcos firms of the risks of using ZTE equipment and services for their infrastructure.

In December 2018, a Czech cyber-security agency is warned against using Huawei and ZTE technologies because they pose a threat to state security.

In September, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated the cost of a full replacement of all Huawei and ZTE hardware on American wireless networks at $1.837bn.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Proximus)

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