French operator Orange will not have any Huawei kit in its 5G network, following the announcement of Nokia and Ericsson as its chosen vendors.

While this would appear to endorse hardening sentiment against Chinese kit vendors promoted by the US, Orange had indicated it was going to avoid Huawei when it launched its request for proposals last year. ‘…after several months of testing, Orange has chosen Nokia and Ericsson,’ said the announcement, apparently trying to maintain the illusion of choice in the matter.

“For Orange, the deployment of 5G represents a huge challenge and is one of the main priorities of our Engage 2025 strategic plan,” said Fabienne Dulac, CEO of Orange France. “We are delighted to be pursuing our partnerships with both Nokia and Ericsson, two key long-term partners, in order to develop a powerful and innovative 5G network. 5G will enable the development of new use-cases and new services, and will provide an enriched experience for our customers – both in the consumer and business segments. Through these agreements, Orange reaffirms its ambition to being network leader.”

Each of Nokia and Ericsson issued press releases referring only to themselves, bless them, and even censored their rival’s name from Dulac’s otherwise identical quote. Nokia seems to have a bit more business as Ericsson’s announcement refers only to the RAN, while Nokia is getting some end-to-end action. For the RAN work, Ericsson is covering the North-East, South-West and Ile de France/Paris regions, with Nokia presumably getting the rest.

“Nokia is thrilled to bring 5G to France with Orange, a key European operator,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Nokia has exactly the right technology for this project, given our excellence in SRAN, 5G and end-to-end network infrastructure leadership. This deal builds on our long-standing trusted relationship with Orange and will deliver a superior experience for businesses and consumers alike.”

“In addition to incredible new mobile broadband experiences for mobile customers, 5G is set to transform business, industry and society across France,” said Arun Bansal, President Europe and Latin America at Ericsson. “We will work in close partnership with Orange France to make this a reality and bring the benefits of 5G to its customers. Today’s milestone in France is also significant to Ericsson’s engagement with Orange, a major worldwide partner.”

While this decision doesn’t come as a major surprise, it does seem to add to the headwinds currently being faced by Huawei in Western Europe. While the UK and the EU have decided not to ban it entirely, there are far more complications to using Huawei kit than that of Nokia and Ericsson and European MNOs may increasingly decide they just don’t need the hassle.


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