Following a ruling by a Swedish administrative court to allow Chinese firm Huawei to participate in the expansion of the country's 5G network, Swedish telecoms regulator PTS halted the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions.
Earlier on Monday, the administrative court of Stockholm temporarily lifted the ban on the Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE to participate in the expansion of the 5G network in Sweden, which Swedish Radio reporter Sven Carlsson described as a "partial victory" for Huawei.
In October, Sweden followed in the UK's footsteps in banning Huawei equipment from its 5G network citing national security risks and asked companies taking part in 5G spectrum auctions to remove components from the company by the start of 2025.
Since the ban from Sweden's 5G expansion, tempers have been running high. The formal reason for the restrictions is that a Chinese security law allegedly makes it possible to force the company to spy on its Western customers. Huawei has vehemently denied the accusations, emphasising its status as an independent business.
Huawei, furthermore argued that the Swedish ban is a direct result of American pressure.
"If not for the pressure from the United States, I am convinced that we would have had discussions about what is necessary and possible to do to address the risks", Huawei USA Security Officer Andy Purdy told the news outlet Ny Teknik.
Swedish Digitalisation Minister Anders Ygeman countered that Sweden "enacts its own security laws without the interference of other countries".
The telecoms regulator PTS said it had informed operators about the halt on auctions and pledged to review the possibilities of re-starting the process as soon as possible. According to industry consultant John Strand, this is neither a victory for Huawei, nor a loss for the Swedish government. "The uncertainty related to the condition for the auction is the reason PTS is halting the auction process", Strand told Reuters.
Huawei, who previously appealed the ban, has no plans for more legal action at this point and is eager to have a constructive dialogue with Swedish authorities, according to its executive vice president, Central East Europe and Nordic Region Kenneth Fredriksen.
According to a report carried out by the consulting organisation Oxford economics on behalf of Huawei Scandinavia, the price tag for total exclusion of Huawei lands at between SEK 3.3 and 35 billion ($380 million to $4 billion) depending on the scenario. However, Digitalisation Minister Anders Ygeman argued that the cost of building the 5G network on an uncertain basis would be significantly higher than that.
The auctions were expected to start Tuesday and would allocate frequencies in the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands, crucial for 5G networks. It would have placed Huawei's competitors Nokia and Ericsson in an advantageous position as PTS had specifically asked companies taking part in the auctions to remove Huawei and ZTE equipment from their infrastructure.