Orange CEO shares supply chain fears

08 January 2020

The chief executive officer of French giant Orange warned an industry conference in the US about a “loss of trust in global supply chains” that could lead to the costly break-up of the entire market.

Stéphane Richard told the Mobile World Congress Americas show in Los Angeles that restricting access to components and products would hit the entire industry and threaten the survival of 5G as a global standard.

A major Huawei customer in several international markets, Orange is understood to have been worried that a ban on the sale of US components to the Chinese vendor could disrupt operations – although Richard did not refer to Huawei in his presentation.

“The global supply chain is intricately entwined, with key software and hardware components sourced from all over the world,” said Richard.

In 2018, a similar ban on component sales to ZTE, a fellow Chinese vendor, caused problems for European customers such as Italy’s Wind Tre, which blamed the punitive measures for delays to a network project and the subsequent loss of customers.

US authorities have also been leaning on European governments to exclude Chinese vendors from 5G projects on security grounds.