Ireland’s largest telco, Eir, says it is sticking with Huawei

11 Feb 2019

Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

Eir won’t be joining other European operators in distancing themselves from the Chinese equipment maker.

Eir today (11 February) confirmed that it will continue to use Huawei radio access equipment in the roll-out of its 4G and 5G networks.

Speaking at the reveal of a €500m fibre-to-the-home roll-out that will reach 1.4m premises with a network capable of speeds of up to 10Gbps, CEO Carolan Lennon said Eir is sticking with the Chinese equipment maker for its radio access network.

‘We are confident in Huawei as a partner; we have no plans to change’

Driven in part by a trade war that is brewing between the US and China as well as the US filing criminal charges citing alleged IP theft, a skirting of the US-led trade ban on Iran and fears about potential spying, European operators such as BT and Vodafone have been halting the use of Huawei equipment in their core networks. It is understood they still use the Chinese company’s equipment in their radio access networks.

Last November Eir revealed a €150m plan to deliver 4G connectivity to 99pc geographic coverage. The two-year project will transform the entire Eir cellular network, expanding it by hundreds of additional sites. Huawei will provide the radio access network equipment while Swedish telecoms equipment player Ericsson will deploy the core network linked by fibre.

5G is coming

Today, CEO Carolan Lennon confirmed that the first Irish cities will also start to see 5G deployed this year, with handsets likely to be in stores by the second half of 2019. She also confirmed that voice over LTE (VoLTE) services will be rolled out.

When asked if Eir had any plans to follow in the footsteps of BT or Vodafone in curbing the use the Chinese company’s equipment, Lennon said Eir will continue to work with the company.

Eir joins German incumbent operator Deutsche Telekom, which is also standing by its use of the Chinese firm’s equipment. Deutsche Telekom has pointed out that deviating from its existing plans would hold back its 5G for a number of years. It has proposed that critical telecoms infrastructure should be tested in an independent lab under state oversight to determine whether the claims against Huawei are valid or groundless.

Lennon said: “In our RFP [request for proposal] for the network, Ericsson was successful on the core network bid and Huawei was successful for the radio access part.

“We are confident in Huawei as a partner; we have no plans to change.

“Around 48pc of telcos in Europe have Huawei as a partner,” Lennon said.

Huawei sign on a building. Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years