Norwegian telecom operator Telenor said Friday it had picked Sweden's Ericsson to build the country's 5G network, dropping Chinese behemoth Huawei which had provided equipment for its current 4G network.

The decision came after a warning from Norway's intelligence services that Huawei was too close to the Chinese government, echoing calls by the US for its allies to ban Huawei from future networks for fears that it may help Chinese espionage efforts.

"When selecting the vendor for the radio access network, we have considered important factors like technical quality, ability to innovate and modernise the network, commercial terms and conditions, as well as carried out an extensive security evaluation," Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said.

"Based on the comprehensive and holistic evaluation, we have decided to introduce a new partner for this important technology shift in Norway," he said in a statement.

Telenor said the modernisation of its network would take four to five years. During that period, it would still use Huawei "to maintain the 4G network and also upgrade to 5G coverage in selected areas of Norway".

A setback for Huawei in Norway
Huawei is spending top dollar to entice app developers to create apps for its ecosystem. AFP / STEFAN WERMUTH

Telecom experts consider Huawei as the leader in 5G equipment, in terms of both technology and price.

Huawei's Norway spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Scandinavian countries are expected to start rolling out super-fast 5G services next year.

Telenor has more than 180 million mobile subscribers in northern Europe and southeast Asia.

In October, Swedish operator Telia also picked Ericsson over Huawei for its 5G network.