Cambodian telecom firm Metfone on Tuesday confirmed that it plans to use Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s 5G network technology in the Kingdom, despite its parent firm refusing to work with the Chinese tech powerhouse in Vietnam.
Metfone is a subsidiary of Viettel Group, Vietnam’s largest mobile carrier which is wholly owned by the country’s Ministry of Defence.
During an interview at the company’s headquarters in Hanoi, Viettel CEO Le Dang Dung said the firm will not work with Huawei for its 5G network in Vietnam, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.
Dung said it will deploy Ericsson AB’s equipment in Hanoi and Nokia Oyj’s technology in Ho Chi Minh City.
He said Viettel will use 5G chipsets from Qualcomm Inc and another US company.
“We are not going to work with Huawei right now. It’s a bit sensitive with Huawei now.
“There were reports that it’s not safe to use Huawei. So Viettel’s stance is that, given all this information, we should just go with the safer ones. So we choose Nokia and Ericsson from Europe,” Dung told Bloomberg.
The move comes as Vietnam aims to be the first Asean nation to provide a 5G network – without Huawei’s assistance.
But in Cambodia Metfone maintains that it will use Huawei’s technology as usual, a company senior marketing officer, who asked not to be named, said.
He told The Post on Tuesday that he does not know if Viettel’s decision will be applied to all of its operations abroad.
However, he said Metfone plans to launch its 5G trials in partnership with Huawei next month.
“Metfone will begin 5G trials using Huawei’s technologies on September 5,” he said.
Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) spokesman Im Vutha said Cambodia is a free market, thus the firms are not barred from working together.
“We, Cambodia, do not bar any sources of technology, it is dependent on the operators themselves to choose their technology,” he said, adding that Huawei’s devices are rising in popularity among Cambodians, and are third after Apple and Samsung.
“We are a consumer country – we are not producers, so the fight between producer countries is none of our business,” he said.
The Kingdom’s leading mobile operator, Smart Axiata Co Ltd, announced last month that it had begun 5G trials in partnership with Huawei and may launch its mobile network later this year.
Vietnam is quietly siding with the Trump administration, which has barred Huawei from buying US technology over national-security concerns.
The country’s decision to shun Huawei has made it an outlier in Southeast Asia, as other countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia are open to deploying Huawei’s technology.
The Cambodian government in April signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei to build a 5G network in the Kingdom.