French Orange to rollout Huawei 5G gear in Africa
Published: Jun 30, 2021 08:43 PM
Customers visit a Huawei store in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian Province. Photo: cnsphoto

Customers visit a Huawei store in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian Province. Photo: cnsphoto

France's major telecom operator Orange said that it will continue to cooperate with Huawei in Africa's 5G rollout after facing rising barriers to using the Chinese telecommunications giant's equipment at home amid a US-led crackdown. 

Analysts said the remarks show that the quality of Huawei's equipment makes it hard to abandon, and they also indicate that Huawei's cooperation with European telecom operators will continue, despite harassment from Washington.

"We're working more and more with Chinese vendors in Africa…They've invested in Africa while the European vendors have been hesitating," Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, France's largest telecoms firm, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Orange will avoid using equipment from Chinese vendors including Huawei and ZTE when developing Europe's 5G networks, opting for suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia instead, according to the Reuters report, citing the chief executive.

"Cooperation in third markets shows that Huawei's reputation among European telecom operators is very good after years of cooperation," Jiang Junmu, chief writer at Chinese telecom industry news website and a close follower of Huawei, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

It also shows that Huawei's equipment and technology are both strong and irreplaceable, Jiang added.

The cooperation also comes as European governments have tightened controls on Chinese high-tech companies building 5G networks under US pressure. 

Orange's move is also case of looking out for itself, which requires Huawei to be "profitable" in the 5G era, Ma jihua, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Countries such as Britain have already banned Huawei from 5G network construction, while others have set barriers for Chinese vendors -- for instance, preventing them from participating in the core parts of their 5G networks.

Huawei can only strive to maintain its current shares in the European market, rather than seeking growth and expansion, Ma said.

"We'll need time and additional investment to build new standalone networks with multiple vendors," Richard said. "The fact is that in Europe today developing 5G networks with Chinese vendors is more and more difficult - we take this as a reality."

However, despite the setbacks, Ma believed the Chinese tech giant will not easily give up on the European market, which it has cultivated for decades, and will "come back immediately when opportunity comes."

During the 2021 Mobile World Congress (MWC 2021) in Barcelona, Spain, Huawei launched a series of 5G products and solutions oriented to "1+N" 5G target networks, saying that "supercharged by industry-leading innovation, these products and solutions will help promote multi-antenna technology to all bands and all scenarios to build leading 5G networks."

President of Huawei Western Europe David Li said during the Congress that Huawei is "a strong supporter of the EU's green ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Huawei's cooperation with European operators will continue, which is a market choice rather than political one, just like economic cooperation between China and Europe, Ma said.