As per sources familiar with the updates of 5G launch project launch in Jordan, the government will very soon secretly order Jordanian telecom operators to restrict Chinese companies from participating in the project aimed at building 5G networks in the Kingdom, as a result of surging US pressure from intelligence agency. The government also plans to rip-and-replace the existing core network and wireless equipment provided by Chinese vendors in 3 years.
A senior executive with a telecom operator revealed that Jordan government has made the decision without public consultation, getting around the standard bidding procedures and laws. “Jordan intelligence agency warned the telecom operator not to include the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in 5G business bidding due to security concern, citing an unclassified NATO document issued in 2021”, said the executive. The agency is persuading relevant authorities to subsidise the operators with preferential electricity and spectrum policies. It also threatens operators only to choose certain Western vendors, even not to conduct customs clearance for Chinese vendors.
This marks the latest move in Washington’s ongoing campaign to curb Chinese telecom vendors increasing influence in 5G global markets.
The executive also shared common concern among the 3 telecom operators that restrictions on Chinese companies will not only postpone the 5G deployment in Jordan, but may shore up the price of telecom equipment and make them miss the opportunities of building on the rich credit already exists in their networks as a result of their strategic long-term business partnerships with Chinese vendors, specifically Huawei who has a big stake in the Jordanian telecom market share. Telecom operators will waste even more money and lose customers satisfaction during the potential long rip-and-replace operation with the existing network undertaken by Chinese companies.
“Placing ‘black box’ restriction on companies from a certain country, is a violation of their legal rights, obviously destructive for creating a levelled playing field and attracting foreign investors into this industry, key to Jordan Economic Modernisation Vision”, said this executive.
The bidding process of 5G business between operators and 5G vendors is currently going on. Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, CISCO, Rakuten, and ZTE is competing in different categories of the 5G business such as microwave, core and wireless. Till now, the 3 operators have made no announcement about the bidding process and TRC did not announce the official launch date of the 5G in the kingdom yet.
In September 2022, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), Jordanian industry watchdog, finalised an agreement with the 3 telecom operators Zain, Umniah and Orange with a stimulus incentives package which supposed to pave the way for the introduction of 5G services in Jordan.
According to Ericsson official website on February 9, Jordanian operator Umniah announced Ericsson as its partner for the launch of its first phase of 5G technology deployment in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Right after the announcement, Ahmed Adelshafy, VP & Key Account Manager of Ericsson, posted on his personal Linkedin that “Extremely energised to see the uptake of 5G in the Middle East beyond GCC countries. A very wise decision of Jordan that will sure be followed by other regulatory authorities.” Later on Feb 9, he changed “regulatory authorities” to “markets”.