UPDATE 1-Sweden to tighten telco network security ahead of 5G roll out

(Adds further minister quotes, background)

STOCKHOLM, March 13 (Reuters) - Sweden wants to tighten security requirements for mobile operators and suppliers of telecoms equipment, the minister for digital development said on Wednesday, amid global concerns about Chinese firms’ role in supplying sensitive network gear.

Authorities in the United States have alleged equipment made by China’s Huawei Technologies could be exploited by Beijing for spying. The company denies this, but a number of countries have stopped operators using products from the Chinese firm in their networks.

The European Commission is considering a de facto ban.

“We want to be able to exclude components, suppliers and operators from the upcoming build-out of 5G that are seen as presenting a threat to Sweden’s security,” Minister for Energy and Digital Development Anders Ygeman told reporters.

Ygeman said he did not want to point the finger at any individual firms or countries.

“But clearly the discussion about security in the 5G network has played a part in the importance of drawing up a proposal for this legislation,” he said.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed a law that limits Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE Corp’s access to U.S. government and military contracts.

Huawei hit back last week, saying the law was unconstitutional and suing the U.S. government.

Limiting Huawei’s access to the Swedish market would be a boon for domestic supplier Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, which have been in cut-throat competition with the Chinese firm for years.

But the Swedish market is small and possible retaliation by China, a much bigger market, would outweigh any positive domestic effects.

Sweden hopes to amend laws before a spectrum auction for so-called 5G next-generation mobile infrastructure due in December. (Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter)