Finland Set to Pass Telecoms Bill Blocking Vendors From Networks Amid European Tech Nationalism Push

© REUTERS / Antti Aimo-KoivistoThe Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland April 6, 2016.
The Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland April 6, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The bill is expected to pass into law in an afternoon session on Monday at the country's parliament in Helsinki, which could spark further tensions in the ongoing rise of European tech nationalism.

Finland is expected to introduce a telecommunications bill which could potentially exclude allegedly untrusted vendors such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp from national networks, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

While the bill does not directly name Huawei, it states that equipment would be banned in the "network's key assets if there are strong grounds to suspect the use of such equipment would endanger national security or defense".

“We aren’t pointing fingers at any one party. We should ensure we don’t take action that closes doors for Nokia as a result of any backlash,” Johannes Koskinen, Social Democratic Party lawmaker and former longstanding Justice Minister, told Bloomberg in a phone interview when asked whether the law targeted specifically Chinese vendors.

But the law could spark backlash from Chinese authorities, prompting Beijing to block the Finnish telecom from the mainland's massive 5G market, the report added.

According to chief executive Pekka Lundmark, the Finnish telecoms giant boosted its market reach following Huawei's ban in the UK, Australia, Japan and numerous others, leading to a business boost to roughly 43 percent the value of total deals.

But Lundmark noted the importance of China's telecoms market, adding Nokia would drop short-term profitability to gain a larger stake in the 5G market, which had been resisted under previous management, he said in his October statement.

Government officials and representatives from key telecoms are set to be grilled on the security of their networks based on national security, with the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency defining the specifications for key network assets.

“The industry is developing fast and it may be that in a short time we see an Indian or Korean or Japanese or American company on the market, each with its own national interests. The situation isn’t stable,” Koskinen concluded.

UK, Sweden Pass Measures Against Huawei in Rise of Tech Nationalism

The news comes after the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority excluded Huawei from upcoming 5G mid-band spectrum auctions in October, but was later blocked by a court ruling after the Chinese telecoms giant appealed the decision.

According to reports, the court order has blocked parts the ban until further notice, the Swedish Administrative Court said as cited by Reuters.

The Swedish decision to ban Huawei would restrict free trade and delay national 5G rollouts, Ericsson chief executive Borje Ekholm said in a surprise statement, adding competition would boost innovation and benefit his company in the long term.

The UK has also passed a Telecommunications Act in November imposing heavy fines on British telecoms failing to remove Huawei kit from networks by 2027, sparking backlash from the world's largest IT equipment provider.

But London will only spend £250m to diversify 5G providers after the ban, citing national security risks, and has limited its options to Ericsson, Nokia and potentially Japan's NEC OpenRan technologies.

The funding will only cover a portion of the total cost of Britain's 'rip and replace' policy', according to reports.

The developments come after the Trump administration blacklisted Huawei, ZTE and dozens others, citing national security risks, and designated the two Chinese telecoms giants as national security risks for alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party and military, without further explanation, sparking criticism from Huawei and Beijing.

 

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