March 27, 2019 / 12:22 PM / a month ago

Ericsson says no bounty from Huawei 5G security worries

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Telecoms equipment supplier Ericsson is yet to see an increase in contract wins on the back of security concerns over China’s Huawei, the Swedish company’s chief executive said on Wednesday

FILE PHOTO: The Ericsson logo is seen at the Ericsson's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden June 14, 2018. Picture taken June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Olof Swahnberg/File Photo

The mobile network gear maker counts market leader Huawei and Finland’s Nokia as its main rivals and some analysts think it could benefit from Western suspicions of Huawei, after Washington alleged its gear could be used by Beijing for spying.

Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and launched a lawsuit against the U.S. government.

“What we see is that customers are worried,” Ericsson Chief Executive Borje Ekholm told Reuters ahead of the firm’s annual meeting at a venue close to its north Stockholm headquarters.

“And that of course leads to more discussions with customers for us, but we can’t see that contracts are being allocated. That has not happened yet.”

EU nations will be required to share data on 5G cybersecurity risks and produce measures to tackle them by the end of the year, the European Commission said on Tuesday, shunning U.S. calls to ban Huawei across the bloc.

“It’s good that the EU is trying to harmonize the regulations...they are trying to create some kind of umbrella, which I think is very good for Europe,” Ekholm said, adding that Ericsson will not take a position on national security issues.

Ericsson won back a 5G customer from Huawei in its own backyard last week when it signed a comprehensive deal with Denmark’s TDC to deploy its 5G platform and modernize the carrier’s radio access and core networks.

Huawei had signed a six-year networks deal with TDC back in 2013, establishing the Danish company as a ‘reference’ customer to showcase its performance.

TDC CEO Allison Kirkby was quoted as saying that the operator “is not blind” to widespread concerns about Huawei and information security, although she also pointed out that price was a significant factor.

Ericsson said it had won the contract because it is a technology leader in 5G.

“This is an important customer, we will be working with their whole network... and we see that as a strategically important cooperation,” Ekholm said, but added the deal had been on the table for “a few years”.

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom and Helena Soderpalm, additional reporting by Douglas Busvine

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