Sweden is banning Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE from building the country’s fifth generation high-speed wireless service, joining several other countries that have cited security concerns in their decisions to not do business with Chinese tech giants, numerous sources reported.
The Swedish telecom regulator said Tuesday that following advice from the country’s armed forces and security services, it had decided to ban Huawei and ZTE from being used by four wireless carriers bidding for frequencies in an upcoming spectrum auction, the Associated Press reported.
The ban gave telecoms operators until 2025 to remove equipment made by the two Chinese companies from their existing infrastructure for core function, according to the Financial Times.
“China is one of the biggest threats to Sweden,” Klas Friberg, the head of Sweden’s domestic security service, known as SAPO, said Tuesday, according to the AP.
“The Chinese state is conducting cyber espionage to promote its own economic development and develop its military capabilities. This is done through extensive intelligence gathering and theft of technology, research and development. This is what we must consider when building the 5G network of the future.”
Sweden is the latest country to prohibit Huawei from deploying equipment, and follows all member countries of The Five Eyes — Canada, New Zealand, United States, Britain, and Australia — in swearing off the technology. The Five Eyes represent the world’s most powerful intelligence community.
In July, Britain announced it would unplug from Huawei, despite the decision meaning 5G rollout would be delayed by three years. (RELATED: Britain Bans A Chinese Tech Giant From Building Out 5G Technology)
President Donald Trump has battled with Huawei throughout 2020, imposing an export control in May that cuts the company off from semiconductors necessary to build out technology. Experts believe 5G will help lay the groundwork for the so-called Internet of Things, a form of technology tying virtually all appliances to the internet.
Sweden’s decision to ban @Huawei and ZTE from their 5G telecoms networks is welcomed news and a model for our other EU partners. These unsafe vendors are proxies for the Chinese Communist Government.https://t.co/lOTF7ghSje
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) October 20, 2020
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced in June the agency’s decision to designate Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, citing the company’s alleged close ties with the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus.
Big news: Sweden has “banned on security grounds the use of telecom equipment from China’s #Huawei and ZTE in its #5G network ahead of a spectrum auction scheduled for next month.” There is global momentum toward a risk-based framework for 5G security. ????????https://t.co/aEaM9W1zhs
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) October 20, 2020
Huawei denied it was a security risk, saying that it “has never caused even the slightest shred of threat to Swedish cyber security and never will,” according to the AP. “Excluding Huawei will not make Swedish 5G networks any more secure. Rather, competition and innovation will be severely hindered.”
The ban will mean more opportunities for Huawei’s biggest rival, the Swedish company Ericsson, the Financial Times reported.
“We cannot compromise with Sweden’s security,” Friberg said.