In an interview with CNBC, Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm countered claims that his company is behind Huawei in 5G, or that it’s getting a free ride due to security concerns about the Chinese company.
“First, this whole notion that we get some sort of free ride here, I wouldn’t say,” Ekholm said. “So far, there are very little effects on our order books from any of these discussions. It’s more, actually, creating uncertainty in the market, reducing investments overall.
“So I think the whole uncertainty that we have geopolitically is not positive. At the same time, I hope we find a solution that allows the world to move forward. Security aspects are going to be critical in a 5G world—we connect everything. Of course, that’s going to put extra security demands on the networks, cybersecurity is a bigger threat. So we need to think differently about security. To some extent it’s a national security policy.”
When asked specifically if Ericsson was behind Huawei in technology, or in its ability to deliver the scale and economy Huawei is often credited with, Ekholm was adamant that his company is in the lead.
“Just a couple of facts, so we get those ones in there:
“The first networks launched—they were in North America—it was actually with our equipment. The first operational 5G networks had the gear from us. It’s hard to be behind then.
“The second one is, if you look at the first European network launched, it was here in Switzerland. 5G launched with Swisscom and that’s 100% an Ericsson customer. By the way, Swisscom has the best network of all operators globally and that’s all Ericsson equipment. So I find it’s a bit difficult to say that we’re behind when I see no one ahead of us.”