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Alex Webb

Finland's Champion Nokia Is Letting the Side Down on Huawei and 5G

If Europe and the U.S. are to compete effectively with China and Huawei, they need Nokia to start getting 5G right.

The future starts here.

The future starts here.

Photographer: Arne Dedert/DPA

Pekka Lundmark has a lot resting on his shoulders. As chief executive officer of Nokia Oyj, he’s tasked with turning around the stuttering telecoms giant’s fortunes before it misses out on the 5G revolution. Also riding on his success, however, is the ability of the world’s industrialized economies to compete with China.

Beijing was quick to make 5G networks a strategic priority. Whereas 4G was all about enabling Instagram, YouTube, Uber and other content to run on people’s smartphones, 5G’s applications are broader: It will underpin smart factories, cities and offices. The technology is therefore a pillar of China’s economic plan. It expects to have installed 650,000 5G base stations nationwide by the end of this year — more than 10 times as many as the U.S.