US should buy control of Nokia, Ericsson to fight Huawei: Barr

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States (US) and its allies should take controlling stakes in Nokia, Ericsson or both to battle Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s dominance of the 5G market, US Attorney General Bill Barr said on Thursday.

“There are only two companies that can compete with Huawei right now: Nokia and Ericsson,” Barr said in a speech on the Chinese economic threat.

“The main concern about these suppliers is that they have neither Huawei’s scale nor the backing of a powerful country with a large embedded market like China,” he said.

“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power.”

Barr, who was speaking at a conference on China’s security threat at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the US has to move quickly to challenge Huawei’s dominance in the unfolding, next-generation 5G communications market.

He said there are already proposals on the table for the US “aligning” itself with either or both Ericsson, a Swedish company, or Nokia of Finland.

The proposals involve “American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies,” he said.

“We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach.”

Barr, who spent 14 years as top executive of US telecommunications companies GTE and Verizon before leading the Justice Department, described Huawei as a threat that could give Beijing “unprecedented leverage” over US and Western industry and security.