Nokia backtracks on statements made by its CTO about Huawei

In an interview with the BBC, Nokia Corporation’s Chief Technology Officer and president of Nokia Bell Labs Marcus Weldon gave a comment about the recent findings of a security research into Huawei’s network gear.

Mr. Weldon stated the following: “Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven’t patched things, they haven’t upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don’t. (…) We read those reports and we think OK, we’re doing a much better job than they are,” adding, accroding to, that Nokia is a safer bet for British operators than Huawei.

When we first saw this interview, Marin and I were a bit surprised considering Nokia never gives comments about competitors’ gear or publicly suggests which gear to use. Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri in the last 2 years has been repeatedly asked on investor calls about how the security risk of Huawei might affect Nokia’s business and you could never hear a definite statement, clearly suggesting that Nokia doesn’t want to take any sides but just do business. One of the reasons for that is that Nokia is also present in China with last year’s revenue of 2.2 billion euros in the region. That’s still less than the 6.5 billion euro revenue from Europe or 4 billion euro revenue from US, but with the rollout of 5G and considering the good relationship Nokia has with Chinese operators, that amount is surely set to rise.

It came as a no surprise that shortly after the BBC interview was published, Nokia issued an official statement distancing itself from the statements made by CTO Weldon. “Nokia is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors,” says the press release.