Borje Ekholm (pictured) hit out at Sweden’s decision to ban Huawei from involvement in an upcoming 5G auction, telling Financial Times (FT) the move restricts free trade and would delay rollout of the technology.
In an interview, Ericsson’s CEO addressed Swedish regulator PTS’ order to operators participating in the auction not to use equipment from Huawei and ZTE due to security concerns.
Huawei appealed the decision, with a court suspending the order and causing a delay to the auction, which was due to start on 10 November.
Although Ericsson is expected to benefit greatly from Huawei’s woes by grabbing additional market share in countries which have restricted the Chinese vendor, Ekholm said it was important such regulatory decisions were reviewed.
He explained Ericsson and Sweden were “built on free trade” and from his perspective it was “important that we have open markets and free competition”.
Sweden’s stance on Huawei followed an assessment by the country’s intelligence services and armed forces, and Ekholm said he understood telecoms networks were becoming an increasingly important issue when it came to national security.
However, he told FT he believed the country had deviated from European Union 5G guidelines and banned the company using its own interpretation of the rules.
While Ekholm’s comments appear to back Huawei in a fight against its home market, Ericsson itself has a sizeable business in China.
It will therefore likely want to protect its own interests there, especially if there is backlash from China on Sweden’s Huawei ban.
Ekholm acknowledged Huawei was a major competitor, but added it was “important to maintain” collaboration on industry standards too.
“I belong in the category that believes competition makes us, longer-term, a better company”, he said.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back