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Telefónica embraces Ericsson in shift away from Huawei – report

According to a new report from Reuters, Telefónica in Spain has replaced an unspecified amount of equipment from China's Huawei with products from Sweden's Ericsson. The move may be part of a broader effort by some network operators to reduce their reliance on Huawei equipment over fears that it can be used for Chinese espionage.

The Reuters report cited unnamed sources within Telefónica, and did not provide details on the amount of equipment purchased or the timeframe it was bought.

The move appears to stem from an announcement by Telefónica in 2019 that it would significantly reduce the amount of Huawei gear it would buy. However, the Spanish operator's CTIO, Enrique Blanco, at the time downplayed the political elements of the company's strategy, claiming that Telefónica's move away from Huawei was a "purely technical decision."

(Source: Reuters / Alamy Stock Photo)

(Source: Reuters / Alamy Stock Photo)

Telefónica's efforts broadly align with a US-led push against China's Huawei as a threat to operator security. First under the Trump administration and continued by President Biden, US officials broadly have been pushing network operators to remove Huawei equipment in order to operate "clean" networks.

As a result of the campaign against Huawei, Ericsson has been winning deals across the world. Operators ranging from Telia to KPN to BT have announced shifts from Huawei to Ericsson in recent years.

Similarly, in the US both Nokia and Ericsson have been winning contracts to replace Huawei equipment in some US networks. For example, Viaero Wireless announced Ericsson would replace Huawei's core, radio access network (RAN), microwave and router equipment across more than 900 LTE sites in Viaero's network. And Union Wireless said it would use Nokia's equipment for a similar effort, though the company did not disclose the number of sites covered by the Nokia deal.

More open?

Telefónica's shift from Huawei to Ericsson is concurrent with the company's embrace of open RAN technology, which promises to allow network operators to mix and match equipment from a variety of suppliers through interoperable interfaces.

Already Telefónica is testing open RAN technology with Japanese integration vendor NEC in its four main markets of Spain, Germany, the UK and Brazil. The company's immediate goal is to set up 800 mobile sites across these countries that will be in commercial use sometime in 2022. Other participants in Telefónica's open RAN trial have not yet been named.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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