According to a Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm is pressuring his government to reverse the ban on Huawei and ZTE. Apparently he had threaten to pull out Ericsson from Sweden if they continue to ban the Chinese telecommunications giants from participating in the 5G rollout.
It was reported that the the CEO has sent a series of text messages to the Foreign Trade Minister, Anna Hallberg to review the order to telcos by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) to remove Chinese 5G equipment by January 2025. However, Hallberg reportedly said she has not made any contact with PTS and she wouldn’t influence the decision of individual authorities.
The Swedish government decided to build its 5G networks without Huawei and ZTE due to security concerns. The ban was decided based on assessment by Sweden’s police and military agencies who are convinced that Huawei and ZTE are working under the Chinese government’s influence.
It appears that China may retaliate by banning Swedish-based Ericsson in China which is seen as Huawei’s closest rival in the 5G race. It was reported that China market contributes 10% to Ericsson’s sales and the company’s deputy chairman, Jacon Wallenberg had said in an interview that stopping Huawei is definitely not good.
In November 2020, the Ericsson CEO had backed Huawei and said that the government’s decision to ban them from the 5G auction would restrict free trade and delay the rollout of the technology. He said Ericsson and Sweden were “built on free trade” and it’s “important that we have open markets and free competition”.
While he acknowledged that telco networks are becoming an increasing important issue in terms of national security, he believed that Sweden has deviated from the European Union’s 5G guidelines and have banned using its own interpretation of the rules. While he sees Huawei as a major competitor, he said it was also important to maintain collaboration on industry standards.