Swedish regulations today banned the use of telecom equipment from China ZTE and Huawei in its 5G network ahead of the spectrum auction scheduled for the next month.
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority said that the setting of the license conditions followed assessments by the Swedish Armed Forces and security service.
European governments have been reviewing the role of the Chinese companies in building their networks following pressure from the US, which says that they pose a security threat because, among other concerns, Chinese companies and citizens must by law aid the state in intelligence gathering.
Sweden’s security service called China “one of the biggest threats against Sweden”.
The United Kingdom, in the month of July, ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from the Britain 5G network by the end of 2027, which becomes one of the first European countries to do so.
ZTE and Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the decision by Sweden, home to Ericsson, one of Europe’s leading telecom equipment suppliers.
“The ban leaves network operators with fewer options and risks slowing the rollout of 5G in markets where competition is reduced,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.
The ban is more likely to benefit the rival telecom equipment makers Ericsson and Finland Nokia.
PTS also said that the companies taking part in the auction must remove the ZTE and Huawei gear from existing central functions by the 1st of Jan 2025.
The regulator defined central functions as equipment used to build the radio access network, the transmission network, the core network, and the service and maintenance of the network.
PTS said that the license conditions were decided to address the assessments made by the armed forces and security service.
It has approved the participation of the Hi3G Access, Telia Sverige, Teracom in the planned spectrum auction of 2.3Ghz, and 3.5Ghz, key band crucial for the rollout of 5G.
Tele2, which uses Huawei equipment in its network, which had earlier called Huawei an important vendor, said the PTS decision “does not change our plans substantially”.
“We may have to phase different costs differently between years to meet security conditions on time,” a spokesman told Reuters.
The 5G spectrum auction was originally planned for early 2020, but last year PTS said that it would delay the auction due to a security review. PTS announced in the month of April this year that the auction would begin in November.