A European trade group representing alternative telecoms operators has warned against bans on Chinese equipment vendors such as Huawei and ZTE, arguing they increase costs and delay network upgrades.
The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), said it “denounces any bans of Chinese 5G suppliers for geopolitical reasons”.
It said such decisions should only be made “on the basis of well-established facts”.
The group represents challenger operators such as Germany’s 1&1 Drillisch, France’s Iliad and Spain’s Masmovil.
Huawei Technologies, the world’s leading telecommunications equipment supplier, is also a member of the group.
Huawei’s equipment has been increasingly used by European telecommunications network operators in recent decades.
But more recently the company has come under fire from the US government, which argues its gear can be used for spying, something Huawei denies.
The UK earlier this year ordered Huawei equipment to be removed from British networks, while France recently imposed restrictions on the company that industry watchers say amount to a de-facto ban.
Earlier this month Orange Belgium and Proximus decided to replace Huawei equipment with Nokia radio access network equipment for their Belgian 5G networks.
And last week Dutch network provider KPN said it would use Ericsson 5G equipment after earlier deciding not to use Huawei.
The exclusion of China’s Huawei and ZTE would leave only three global players to choose from, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, the ECTA said.
“A reduction in the number of worldwide suppliers from five to three will not only impact the telecoms sector by increasing costs, negatively impacting performance, delaying the deployment of 5G networks and constraining innovation potential,” the group said.
Industry consultant John Strand, known as an outspoken criticic of Chinese vendors, challenged the ECTA’s position, saying Nordic operators Telenor, Telia and TDC had replaced Chinese equipment “without increasing cost”.
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