United Group is reportedly weighing up whether to remove equipment manufactured by Huawei from its networks.
The Amsterdam-based firm provides telecom and broadcast services across several European markets, with a particular focus on the Balkans where it covers Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Serbia and Slovenia.
According to Reuters, the group is mindful of the US government’s efforts to discourage the use of Huawei’s equipment due to the firm’s alleged but unproven connections to the Chinese government, as well as concerns over Chinese laws that require individuals and companies to surrender information to the authorities upon request.
However, United notes that the financial implications of shunning the vendor’s equipment are substantial. Huawei has gained significant traction in emerging markets as its equipment can typically be provided at a lower cost than that of its European rivals such as Ericsson and Nokia.
Speaking to the news agency, United Group chairman Nikos Stathopoulos said: “I think a gradual and measured switch to something that is more US-approved is the right approach, and it’s one that we’re considering. We cannot ignore their wishes but, in an ideal world, we should also receive financial help [from governments] for switching to new infrastructure, as it will cost us millions of dollars to do so.”
Huawei has consistently refuted allegations that it would cooperate with the Chinese government, or that its equipment represents a security risk, citing a lack of evidence for the claims. A spokesperson from Huawei said: “In the past years, we had good cooperation with the United Group, and we hope we will continue this cooperation in the coming years.”