Telecoms operators Orange Belgium and Proximus have decided to progressively replace Huawei-made mobile equipment in Belgium and Luxembourg with Nokia gear, Reuters reported.
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.
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.
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.
Other European countries are moving towards greater restrictions on Huawei.
The German government is planning tougher oversight of telecoms network vendors that will make it harder for Huawei to keep a foothold in Europe’s largest market.
France, the EU’s second-largest economy, will de facto ban Huawei’s mobile equipment by 2028.