Belgian telcos leave Huawei out in the cold for 5G rollouts

Orange and Proximus will use Nordic network equipment instead.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Orange and Proximus have both chosen to use Nokia and Ericsson equipment for their respective 5G rollouts in Belgium.

The move will see both Orange and Proximus drop Huawei gear, which had previously been used as part of the telcos' 4G networks.

The two telcos will use Nokia equipment to roll out 5G and progressively renew existing 2G/3G/4G mobile radio networks. Specifically, Nokia will build one radio access network (RAN) and one 5G network each for the telcos. 

Meanwhile, Ericsson will be responsible for building out the cores of the telcos' 5G networks.

"The decision to collaborate with Ericsson is an important step in the execution of our network strategy. Proximus is committed to building the best gigabit network for Belgium, and the renewal of our mobile network equipment is a key element in this strategy for the coming years," Proximus network business chief Geert Standaert said.

Telenet, the third major Belgian telco, is the last remaining telco that has yet to make a decision on which supplier it will use to build its 5G networks. 

Orange and Proximus' decisions to not select Huawei gear continues the trend of the Chinese equipment provider being blocked out from 5G builds.

Last month, BT, the UK's largest telco, picked Nokia to build more of its 5G networks across the country as part of plans to move away from its partnership with the Chinese telecommunications giant.

In Australia, Huawei has been banned from supplying 5G equipment for any 5G rollouts.

Meanwhile, all of Canada's major telcos have gone elsewhere for their 5G rollouts and, although not officially banned, Huawei has not made any inroads in New Zealand after GCSB prevented Spark from using Huawei kit in November 2018.

Shortly after the announcement that Nokia received the nod in Belgium, the Swedish network giant released a report predicting that 5G-enabled industries would provide $8 trillion worth of value to global GDP by 2030, with COVID-19 accelerating medium and long-term digital investment and value creation. 

According to the report, 5G mature companies are the only group to have experienced a net increase in productivity during the pandemic and that over 70% companies are expected to invest in 5G over the next five years.

"Companies at an advanced level of 5G adoption were the only group to experience a net increase in productivity (+10%) following COVID-19, and the only group able to maintain or increase customer engagement during the pandemic," Nokia said.

To accelerate growth in 5G adoption, companies would need to overcome five key barriers, the Swedish network equipment giant said. These were improving ecosystem availability; education and understanding; awareness of 5G, as over 20% of technology buyers believe 5G implementation is currently not a business priority; cost and complexity; and security.

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