Healthy competition between vendors drives innovation and results in a better service for the consumer, according to Nokia’s CEO for UK and Ireland

With the current security debate around 5G reaching fever pitch in the UK, as Huawei waits to find out whether it will be allowed to continue its involvement with the country’s 5G networks, the Chinese vendor received a vote of confidence from one of their main competitors in the UK.

In an interview with Total Telecom last week, Nokia’s CEO for the UK and Ireland, Cormac Whelan said that healthy competition was crucial to drive innovation in 5G.

“Personally, I would say that any degree of subjugation of anyone in the technology industry is bad for the industry as a whole because it introduces uncertainty and uncertainty is never good.

“Nobody really likes to see good competitors in difficulty because competition is good for all of us – both for the customer in a commercial sense, and for us in terms of innovation,” he said.

Huawei and Nokia are the only two network equipment providers in the UK to offer end-to-end 5G services, and while the two companies compete directly for the same business, Whelan believes that the UK government needs to provide some clarity on the Huawei situation, sooner rather than later.

“The current situation is not very clear cut. We have bans of some kind or another in some locations, we have restrictions of some kind in other places, we have reports that suggest certain things in other geographies. We don’t yet have a fully clear position in the UK on what the government is going to take a position on. Uncertainty is terrible for everybody – operators, customer and vendors alike.

“Exactly how this will turn out remains to be seen. Huawei are a strong competitor but we would like to think that our technology stands on its own and we absolutely stand behind the notion that it does.

When asked whether there was a risk that Nokia could be asked to jump through some additional security hoops following the Huawei investigation, he remained pragmatic.

 “I think there is a natural expectation that anybody who provides technology in this area, particularly as we go into more and more security aware environments and as the world becomes increasingly digitalised, will provide a secure and resilient architecture. I think that’s a good thing and I think it’s a good thing that all vendors will be held to account.

“We work very closely with the DCMS and NCSC on regular requirements on security capabilities and testing. We’ve been part of the supply chain review that DCMS are doing.

“Security is now one of the hottest topics in the network environment and quite rightly so.”  


Read the full interview with Cormac Whelan by clicking here.