Ericsson CEO has a go at Europe’s dysfunctional telecoms market

Börje Ekholm is becoming increasingly outspoken and the latest focus of his public ire is the way telecoms is regulated in Europe.

The Ericsson CEO’s latest outburst was granted to the FT, to whom he characterised the European telecoms market as ‘non-functioning’. The main reason for this claim seems to be the way things are regulated and the ways in which the bloc’s politicians muck about with everything.

These themes are nothing new from Ekholm, who has long lamented European foot-dragging when it comes to making new spectrum available and would like to see a less obstructive approach to operator M&A. Of course, his vested interest is clear as both matters affect how inclined operators are to spend money on the stuff his company sells.

But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Just as it didn’t when he spoke out about Sweden’s ban of Chinese telecoms vendors. Ekholm insists that there are currently too many disincentives to invest in Europe. “The problem is that the guys that are supposed to build out that infrastructure don’t make any money,” he told the FT. “There is a very big cost to waiting,”

Ekholm is also alarmed by the possibility of Europe funnelling public money into assisting non-European competitors to Ericsson and Nokia, in the name of promoting OpenRAN. Given the largely protectionist nature of the EU, you can’t blame him. “It is interesting to see that now there is a discussion about giving EU subsidies to develop competing companies, mostly they are based in the US and Asia,” he said.

The piece concludes with another critique of Swedish and Western policy when it comes to Chinese vendors, with Ekholm worrying that it risks fragmenting the global telecoms ecosystem. “For us to have a presence in both China and the US allows us to be a global tech leader,” he said. “It is high risk to be only in one ecosystem and not the other. It could ultimately lead to the Chinese ecosystem developing faster thanks to its scale.”


  1. Avatar Karen shrier 17/02/2021 @ 1:56 am

    I think every one needs to the standard for 5G supplied by the international standards committee on 5G and that is not happening. Using their 5G spectrum gives a clear path forward.

  2. Avatar Constantinos 17/02/2021 @ 4:39 am

    I know that Ericsson has a quality base and acceptance in so many countries ages before so many countries, let alone China. No question of politics…here.

  3. Avatar John Chester Sr 17/02/2021 @ 7:22 pm

    It’s a sad day when everyone is not on the same playing field. I do believe that all companies Within the region should be treated equally. What he’s said about not keeping up with technology good for your results of inaction of the government. Just know the US has its eye on you and we know that you will take care of this matter promptly.

  4. Avatar B 18/02/2021 @ 1:07 pm

    Let’s see what we have here:
    There are fundamental research guys, all the way from Shannon to the Turkish professor who invented polar coding. They give us the conditions under which something can be done.
    Then we have engineers, materials scientists, programmers who make it happen.
    Then we have managers of all sorts who find the finance, not because of their kind hearts, but expecting profit. A lot of it
    Then we have politicians. What are they good for?

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