Telia to remove all Huawei equipment in Lithuania

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Sweden’s Telia Company will replace all 4G telecoms equipment from Huawei in Lithuania and will not use it for 5G networks, due to the geopolitical situation, its local head told the local BNS news agency.

FILE PHOTO: A flag flutters at the Telia telecommunication company offices in Helsinki, Finland, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

The United States has been leading a global push to exclude Chinese telecommunication companies such as Huawei and ZTE from communications networks for alleged security vulnerabilities, part or rising tensions between the two powers which saw both countries imposing economic sanctions and restricting rival diplomatic activities.

Several European nations, including Sweden, but not Lithuania, have also restricted the role of Chinese suppliers in 5G networks, on security grounds, despite Chinese protests.

“The reason we are abandoning Huawei is the geopolitical situation. We felt that now was the right time to do it, because Ericsson is a good strategic partner”, Dan Stromberg, head of Telia’s operation in Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia, was quoted as saying BNS.

Telia will replace Huawei 4G equipment used in 2,000 broadcast stations around in Lithuania with that of Sweden’s Ericsson as part of an upgrade of the network to include 5G capabilities, he said.

“We were very satisfied with the quality and support of Huawei’s equipment, so there is nothing to complain about. But it is as it is”, Stromberg added.

China, which denies allegations of security vulnerabilites in equipment of its companies, said it would take “all necessary measures” to protect its firms’ legitimate interests.

In February, Lithuanian counter-intelligence agencies publicly said Huawei equipment should not be allowed in critical infrastructure, as Chinese legislature obliges it to share information with Chinese intelligence.

Sweden in October banned telecoms equipment from Huawei and another Chinese maker ZTE in its 5G network.

The British government said its telecommunications firms must not install new Huawei 5G kit after September 2021, and remove all existing Huawei 5G equipment by the end of 2027.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Louise Heavens