(Reuters) Bouygues will replace 3,000 Huawei-made mobile antennas in France by 2028 following a decision by the country’s authorities to remove equipment made by the Chinese company from highly-populated areas, Bouygues’s deputy CEO said on Thursday.
The United States says Huawei equipment can be used by China for spying, an allegation the company denies but which has led many of Washington’s allies to place restrictions on the firm.
French authorities have told telecoms operators planning to buy Huawei 5G equipment that they will not be able to renew licenses for the gear once they expire, effectively phasing the Chinese group out of mobile networks by 2028, three sources told Reuters last month.
“A number of sites will gradually have to be dismantled,” Bouygues’s deputy chief executive Olivier Roussat told reporters on a call, adding there were 3,000 sites with Huawei equipment.
“The dismantling will be carried out over a period of eight years, with a limited impact on our operating results,” Roussat said.
Bouygues, which also reported forecast-beating first-half results on Thursday, did not say which company’s equipment it would use in place of Huawei’s.
Roussat said Huawei’s mobile gear was already banned from the cities of Brest, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Rennes. Mobile equipment made by the Chinese firm can’t be used in Paris either.
Bouygues, whose activities span media, construction and telecoms, has repeatedly said it would seek compensation from the French state if it had to replace Huawei equipment.
Asked about that, Roussat said talks were currently taking place with French authorities, declining to comment further.
He said the group had also launched several legal procedures in parallel against the French state. The deputy CEO said the bans only targeted highly populated areas so far.
Source; Reuters; Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain. Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter