Canadian telcos tap Ericsson, Nokia for 5G gear, ditching Huawei

Andrew Cummings
June 3, 2020

The two telcos had always been investing in Huawei's equipment for developing 5G infrastructure, while Rogers had already been matched with Ericsson.

That is to say, if Huawei 5G equipment and software were to be banned in Canada over security concerns, Telus would likely seek compensation for the money and resources poured into this deployment before the Chinese company was made off limits.

Ericsson now has 93 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with different service providers across the globe, the company said.

Telus has long had Huawei components in its infrastructure.

Canada, meanwhile, has found itself caught in a political hot potato, facing pressure from its allies as well as China following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and Vancouver International Airport in December 2019.

Rogers was the first among the Canadian telecom companies to announce that it won't use Huawei in its 5G network.

The Telus announcement comes as a particular surprise after Chief Financial Officer Doug French told the National Post in February that "we're going to launch 5G with Huawei out of the gate" by the end of the year.

"We're working with multiple vendors to build our 5G network - as we did with our successful buildout of 4G LTE, which included Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and others", said Bell spokesperson Marc Choma in an email to BNN Bloomberg.

Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia have been the three biggest players in the global network equipment industry and Huawei had gained market share in Canada over the past decade with its fourth-generation equipment, said IDC Canada vice-president Lawrence Surtees. "They have all kinds of sophisticated ways of doing things without the manufacturer and their customers even knowing", Surtees said.

Bell, Canada's largest cellphone provider, announced it would partner with Ericsson for its core 5G network. We continue building new research partnerships with Canada's world-class universities.

Analysts said Bell could be use proceeds from the sale for the next round of spectrum auctions, which will provide Canadian wireless networks with more of the frequencies they'll require for deploying fifth-generation services over the coming years.

Telecoms companies were in a bind due to the government's indecision.

"We are proud to have earned Bell's trust to be selected as one of their key partners and significantly expand our existing relationship to accelerate the transformation of their network with 5G mobile and fixed wireless technology", said Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America.

"A decision prohibiting the deployment of Huawei technology without compensation or other accommodations being made by the Government of Canada could have a material, non-recurring, incremental increase in the cost of Telus' 5G network deployment and, potentially, the timing of such deployment", the company stated.

Besides Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, there are other companies that want a piece of the 5G network upgrades.

Samsung Electronics has announced a deal to supply equipment for Videotron's wireless network in the province of Quebec and the Ottawa region of Ontario.

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