(Brussels – Brussels morning) Belgian telecom operators Orange Belgium and Proximus have decided to phase out Chinese Huawei telecommunications equipment maker from their existing and planned network infrastructures in Belgium and Luxembourg, according to two unnamed sources, Reuters reported today.
The two companies share their mobile network in Belgium and, according to sources, had come under political pressure to part ways with Huawei after the US warned the Chinese giant could be a tool used for spying by Beijing. The same sources also indicate that Orange Belgium and Proximus will replace Huawei equipment with Nokia.
One of the two sources noted that political pressure to force out Huawei has been mounting and added there are now concerns about the company’s ability to continue producing equipment given Washington’s decision to block Huawei’s access to essential computer chips.
Orange and Nokia both declined to comment, whereas, as of late last evening, Proximus and Huawei had yet to respond to requests for a comment.
Orange and Proximus are among the first commercial operators in the EU to yield to political pressure to drop Huawei from their mobile networks. The Belgian capital Brussels being home to the EU’s executive branch and to the EU Parliament has strategic significance, which is why US intelligence agencies are particularly concerned with security issues there.
EU member states are imposing restrictions on Huawei. The British BT telecommunications company has struck a deal with Nokia to provide 5G equipment at end November. Germany has announced tighter oversight of telecommunication equipment vendors that will in effect push Huawei out from its market. Another unnamed source suggests that France will bar Huawei’s mobile equipment from its market by 2028.
Late today, Orange Belgium confirmed reports that it will cooperate with Nokia on renewal of existing and the building of 5G networks.