Orange keeps open mind on Huawei kit

Operator giant Orange admitted it is unlikely to consider Huawei for any European deals involving its core networks, but reiterated promises it will follow regional rules in each of its markets for radio access network (RAN) kit supplied by the Chinese vendor. Speaking at a European strategy update in London this week, Mari-Noelle Jego-Laveissiere, Orange deputy CEO (pictured, second from left), said while the Chinese vendor was a key RAN supplier in some of its European operations, “in each country, the core will probably not be Huawei.” Jego-Laveissiere made it clear she wants to take a balanced approach to network vendor selection across the region, noting there is “no absolute rule in the group saying that we are not going to work with Huawei anymore”, nor is there a “need or rush” for Orange to make a change in its kit “just because of any political reason”.

Of course, some European markets (such as the UK) are under government orders to remove Huawei kit from operator networks due to security concerns. Orange is having to remove Huawei kit from its operations in Belgium due to such orders. Orange is also already reliant on Huawei RAN kit in Poland, Romania and Spain.

The Chinese vendor has scooped up market share in the past decade as a result of competitive pricing compared to western rivals Ericsson and Nokia. Jego-Laveissiere said the operator plans to continue working with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom on RFPs, which allows the companies to “have the price that we want and then to use that in different countries with Huawei, or using Ericsson or Nokia”. This way of working enables Orange to still have “the right price” even if Huawei is “not in the game” in a market, she explained.

Spanish ambitions
During the event, Orange Spain CEO Jean-Francois Fallacher (pictured, far left) also expressed confidence the group’s operations in Spain will return to the black in 2023 despite prolonged challenging market conditions. As a positive he outlined the recent acquisition of Euskaltel by Masmovil, alongside the country maintaining a top European position in terms of ARPU. To return to profitability, Orange is refocusing efforts towards its core business and customers, digitising aspects of its operations and simplifying its company, including diversification of its local brands.

Orange delegate CEO Ramon Fernandez said the group aimed to come back to EBITDA growth in Spain in 2023, with organic cash flow growing from 2022.

In May, the unit indicated plans to slash nearly 500 jobs to better compete with a number of low-cost players in Spain.

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