Telenor says Huawei will still play role in 5G rollout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Telenor TEL.OL reiterated on Sunday Huawei [HWT.UL] would be involved in building Norway's 5G network along with Ericsson ERICb.ST, one of several companies to continue working with the Chinese company despite U.S. pressure.

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Still, on Friday, the head of Telenor Norway, Petter-Boerre Furberg, told Reuters that the operator would gradually phase out the use of Huawei network components in Norway over a 4-5 year modernisation period.

Huawei faces increased official scrutiny in Europe amid U.S. allegations that it poses a security threat. The company rejects the charges.

Huawei, with which Telenor has collaborated for more than a decade on 4G, will continue to play a role in modernising its infrastructure, Hanne Knudsen, Telenor vice president for communications, told Reuters.

“Ericsson has been introduced as a new vendor for 5G RAN, but we will also work with Huawei both to maintain the 4G network and also upgrade to 5G coverage in selected areas of Norway,” Knudsen said in response to written questions.

“Huawei has delivered hardware for RAN, but not for the core network. When they will build 5G in selected areas for the modernisation, this is also for RAN, not core,” she said.

Telenor’s Finnish subsidiary DNA also uses Huawei as one of several vendors for 5G RAN, Knudsen said.

RAN, or radio access network, refers to the radios and antenna that connect smartphones to the mobile network, and accounts for the bulk of the cost of a new network. It is not the core.

Huawei said it welcomed competition in 5G and looked forward to continuing its collaboration with Telenor.

Telenor is using Finnish company Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson for building its core network.

Last week, Telefonica Deutschland O2Dn.DE picked Nokia and Huawei to build its 5G network.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; additional reporting by Victoria Klesty in Oslo; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens