Despite new EU guidance to not ban ‘high risk’ operators, Orange has nonetheless selected a Huawei-less approach for its French network

The past week has been something of a success story for Huawei. After much speculation, the UK made its decision to allow Huawei limited access to the countries 5G networks, rebuffing pressure from the US, and the EU published guidelines recommending that equipment vendors should be thoroughly scrutinised rather than explicitly excluded from EU networks.
But if the Chinese giant thinks these developments mean that the European market is about to soften, it appears they are mistaken, with Orange today announcing that it will instead use Nokia and Ericsson for its French 5G network.
“We are delighted to be pursuing our partnerships with both Nokia and Ericsson, two key long-term partners, in order to develop a powerful and innovative 5G network,” said Orange France CEO Fabienne Dulac.
The plan for the two companies’ roles in the 5G network appears to be regional in nature. Nokia will focus on the West and South-East regions of the country, where they have already played a role in Orange’s existing non-5G networks and RAN. Meanwhile Ericsson will work in the Ile de France, North-East and South-West regions in a similar capacity.
This news comes after the announcement of Orange’s new European strategy, Engage 2025, which will see, among other things, a focus on upgrading their RAN. 
Orange may not be the only company to forego Huawei in the coming months. With US pressure still looming large over Europe, many operators may simply decide that business with Nokia and Ericsson will be less complicated than with Huawei in the long term. However, Orange has not ruled out using Huawei in its other European markets.
France is the last major European economy yet to launch 5G, with a spectrum auction scheduled for later this year. 
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