Nokia CEO warns 5G implementation in Europe 'will be delayed'

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Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, is seen speaking during a presentation of new products.

Paco Freire | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, is seen speaking during a presentation of new products.

European firms have been bidding for their share of high-speed airwaves for 5G, with Italy’s government hauling a record $7.6 billion in a spectrum auction in October.

Suri’s comments came as Nokia and fellow European telecom firm Telenor announced a deal to trial 5G capabilities in Denmark. A number of other companies have been conducting their own pilots, including Orange, BT and Deutsche Telekom.

The gradual transition toward 5G has been clouded by increasing controversy surrounding the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Western countries led by the U.S. are worried the firm’s telecom equipment could provide a backdoor for Chinese government spying and have blocked the deployment of its technology in 5G rollouts as a result. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims.

For his part, Suri said Nokia is watching the developments around Huawei “closely.”

“We will be there for our customers when they need us,” he said. “But it’s sort of beyond Nokia.”

He added: “All I can say is that security will be non-negotiable in the world of 5G.”

A number of smartphone makers — Huawei included — have been announcing 5G-enabled phones at this year’s MWC.

Huawei debuted a foldable smartphone, following in Samsung’s footsteps, which runs on a 5G-compatible chipset. The firm said its new $2,600 phone, dubbed the Mate X, would let users download a one-gigabyte movie in three seconds.

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