Vodafone Group paused the installation of new Huawei core network equipment across its European operations, though CEO Nick Read (pictured) warned any blanket ban on the Chinese vendor would significantly hamper 5G rollout.
The executive said the measure was due to the “noise” around Huawei from media and politicians, and is pending further discussions with authorities. It intends to continue using vendor’s equipment in its radio networks.
Read emphasised authorities had not forced Vodafone’s hand, but noted “the noise is at an unhealthy level across Europe and it needs to move into a more structured conversation with facts so that we are making the right decision for the industry, otherwise this can tailspin into more emotion than facts.”
Vodafone Group uses what it describes as a “small amount” of Huawei kit in its core network in a number of markets in Europe, including Spain. Read confirmed this did not include the UK.
However, the CEO highlighted the importance of the availability of Huawei infrastructure, adding the industry needed to “look at it more holistically” and be “more grounded.” He noted rival vendors Ericsson and Nokia also have R&D facilities and significant manufacturing facilities located in China.
Read’s revelations came as part of the company’s trading update call with media, where he pointed to improved customer trends in Spain and Italy. However, its operations in the two markets booked another sharp year-on-year drop in revenue in the last three months of 2018 (its fiscal Q3).
Revenue in Spain decreased 7.4 per cent year-on-year on figures adjusted to take into account new accounting standards, while revenue in Italy declined 2.8 per cent on the same terms, both attributed to competition and pricing pressures.
Its UK revenue also fell, by 5.2 per cent, a figure the company attributed to changes in reporting of handset financing.
Reported Vodafone Group revenue for the quarter was €11 billion, down 6.8 per cent year-on-year due to the accountancy standards change; the sale of its operation in Qatar announced in March 2018; foreign exchange headwinds; and the impact of strong competition in some of its European markets.
Profit figures are not reported in fiscal Q3.
During the quarter, the company continued measures to simplify its operating model and accelerate digital transformation, noting it intended to improve asset utilisation through partnering.
In its home market, where it this week announced an extension of a network sharing deal with Telefonica’s O2 UK, it plans to “explore opportunities to monetise our UK tower assets”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back