The largest Belgian mobile operator Proximus wants to build its 5G core network with the Swedish network equipment supplier Ericsson. Both companies announced this on Friday in Brussels. In recent years, the former mobile communications division of the former state-owned company Belgacom relied primarily on technology from the Chinese 5G provider Huawei to expand its network. Huawei in particular is suspected by the US of cooperating too closely with the Chinese Communist Party.
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Proximus manager Geert Standaert said the decision to work with Ericsson was an important step in implementing the network strategy. The cloud solution will also be used to renew the existing 4G network (LTE).
Few 5G providers
The decision in Belgium was preceded by long discussions about possible additional costs when switching to a new supplier. The network operators in Germany are also leading a similar debate.
In the technically complicated market for the new 5G mobile communications standard, which requires billions to be invested in research and development, there are only a comparatively few providers worldwide. In addition to the Chinese groups Huawei and ZTE, these are above all Ericsson and Nokia from Scandinavia and Samsung from South Korea. US providers such as Cisco and Aruba Networks (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) only play a role in marginal areas.
Trump assumes Huawei is close to the Chinese government
The US government in particular has political reservations about suppliers from China. President Donald Trump’s administration alleges that Huawei is inappropriately close to the Chinese government and has raised security concerns. Under pressure from the USA, Great Britain has also decided to forego 5G equipment from Huawei, although this entails high additional costs for expanding the 5G network. 5G creates the basis, among other things, for the networking of machines in industry and of intelligent devices as well as for digitization in many areas of life.
The Belgian telecommunications group Belgacom was at the center of an espionage affair in 2013. At the time, a publication by US whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested that the British secret service GCHQ had penetrated Belgacom’s computer network with a cyber attack in 2011. Belgacom stated at the time that the attack had had limited success. In the materials published by Snowden, however, it was stated that the GCHQ, with the help of the US secret service NSA, was able to penetrate deep into the network and thereby gain access to data streams from Belgacom customers.