The head of Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson, Bjorn Ekholm, expressed his concerns over Chinese reprisals after Sweden banned Huawei from taking part in the rollout of 5G networks. “China accounts for eight percent of our revenue. For us it has been a strategically important issue to be present in China,” Ekholm said.
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) announced it was excluding Huawei and ZTE, both from China, from its 5G frequency auction in late October, citing security concerns. Equipment already installed from the Chinese manufacturers must be removed by January 1, 2025.
Sources cited that Ericsson chief called upon the Swedish trade minister Anna Hallberg to “talk” with the PTS over its decision. “At the moment Sweden is a really bad country for Ericsson,” Ekholm complained to the minister.
After the UK in mid-July, Sweden became the second European country and the first in the European Union to explicitly ban Huawei from almost all the infrastructure needed to run its 5G network. Huawei has taken the Swedish regulator to court over its decision, leading to the 5G auction being delayed, and Beijing has warned that the authority's decision could have unspecified “consequences” for Scandinavian companies in China.
Ekholm called the Swedish decision “a complication” for Ericsson, but said he still wanted it to remain Swedish. “Our soul is in Sweden, it's Ericsson's base. But if Sweden doesn't support free trade it is a complication for us,” he said, while noting that “we make 99 percent of our turnover outside Sweden.”