Huawei booted out of Sweden's last chance 5G saloon

There was only a sliver of 5G hope for Huawei in Sweden, and that has now been well and truly dashed by the country’s Supreme Administrative Court.

After a long-drawn-out legal saga, the top court ruled that regulator PTS could finally go ahead with an auction of spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 2.3GHz frequency bands. It will start on January 19.

Importantly for PTS, Huawei will play no part in the supply of 5G kit on the back of operators' acquisition of more spectrum.

Legally banned

Trips to the court started soon after PTS, after consultation with the country's armed forces and the Swedish Security Service, ruled that Huawei's next-gen equipment posed a risk to natural security. The Chinese supplier, insisted the regulator, could not supply new 5G installations following the auction.

Huawei took umbrage and legal action, which bought it some time. The Stockholm Administrative Court granted an injunction to Huawei to suspend the auction.

The reprieve was short lived.

After an appeal from PTS, the Administrative Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Stockholm Administrative Court, which, in turn, prompted an appeal from Huawei (Ed note: hope everyone's following this).

The Supreme Administrative Court was Huawei's last chance, but it didn't work out well for the Chinese supplier.

"A ruling by the Administrative Court of Appeal in a case relating to the law on electronic communication is final and therefore cannot be appealed," the Supreme Administrative Court said in a statement.

"The appeal [from Huawei] should thus be dismissed."

"We note that the court has made this decision," said a PTS spokesman, no doubt quietly triumphant. "The auction will start as planned on Tuesday 19 January."

Pleas fell on deaf ears

Huawei's 5G exclusion comes despite the supplier saying it was "willing to meet extraordinary requirements" laid down by the Swedish government to convince the skeptics. It agreed to even set up test facilities in Sweden for its equipment, if that was a route the Swedish authorities wanted to go down.

Want to know more about security? Check out our dedicated security channel here on Light Reading.

Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm also came to the defense of the embattled Chinese supplier. In an interview with the Financial Times, Ekholm talked of the importance of free trade, both to Ericsson and Sweden. "From my perspective it is important that we have open markets and free competition," he said.

At first glance, Ekholm might seem an unusual ally for Huawei. Ericsson, however, has won a sizable amount of business in China, including a $593 million 5G contract with China Mobile, the world's biggest operator by customers, and major deals with China Telecom and China Unicom.

Voicing some support for Huawei will probably not have done Ericsson's reputation in China much harm.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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