Nokia signs 5G deal with BT following Huawei ban

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The FINANCIAL — Nokia today announced that it has extended its long-term strategic relationship with BT into the 5G arena, following its selection as a 5G RAN vendor for the UK operator. As part of the deal, which will make Nokia BT’s largest equipment provider, Nokia will provide equipment and services at BT radio sites across the UK, helping to evolve BT’s radio access network to 5G and supporting its goal of maintaining the UK’s best network. Nokia will supply its AirScale Single RAN (S-RAN) portfolio for both indoor and outdoor coverage. 

Nokia is set to become a major beneficiary of Huawei being blocked from the UK’s 5G networks. The Finnish telecoms firm has struck a deal to become the largest equipment provider to BT. Nokia will now provide additional base stations and antennas to let EE customers’ devices make calls and transmit data via the UK firm’s 5G “radio access network”. The deal will also see Nokia replace Huawei in BT’s 2G and 4G networks. EE’s network already uses Nokia to provide its 3G service, BBC reported.

Nokia will also provide digital design and deployment for a faster time to market as well as optimization and technical support services.

Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO, Nokia, said: “I am delighted that BT has extended its partnership with Nokia on 5G RAN, making Nokia BT’s largest infrastructure partner. Our two companies have collaborated for over a quarter of a century in order to deliver best-in-class connectivity to people across the United Kingdom. We are proud to support BT’s 5G network evolution and look forward to working even more closely together in the years to come.”

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In July of 2020 the U.K. announced it will ban Huawei from its 5G networks, in a significant U-turn by the government that could significantly dent relations with China while appeasing the U.S. Speaking in Parliament, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said mobile network operators in the country would be forced to stop buying equipment from Huawei by the end of the year. They will also be required to strip out Huawei gear from their infrastructure by 2027, CNBC wrote.

BT’s 5G supplier for the sensitive network core is Ericsson AB, and Nokia’s Swedish rival could also win more work from BT as the carrier plans to phase out its Huawei gear. Nokia currently has an agreement to supply equipment to BT in the greater London area, the Midlands — which covers an area in the middle of England that includes the city of Birmingham — and some other rural parts of the country. The deal announced Tuesday will expanded coverage to areas including Aberdeen, Cambridge and Brighton, Nokia said. Other U.K. carriers are also busy plotting their post-Huawei futures. CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd’s Three UK recently signed a deal with Ericsson, ripping up its plan to rely on the Chinese vendor, according to Bloomberg.

Nokia will supply its AirScale Single RAN (S-RAN) portfolio for both indoor and outdoor coverage, including 5G RAN, AirScale base stations and Nokia AirScale radio access products. These solutions will enable BT to build on its existing network leadership in the UK  to deliver connectivity and capacity benefits to consumers at ultra-low latencies as well as reducing complexity and increasing cost efficiencies. The deal will also see Nokia optimize BT’s 2G and 4G networks and work alongside BT on the development of the OpenRAN ecosystem.

It is interesting to note that yesterday Uber won an appeal to continue operating in London when the judge restored its transportation license. Judge Tan Ikram said that he had “sufficient confidence” Uber “no longer poses a risk to public safety.” A ban would have been a huge hit for the company as its revenue declined 29% in Q2. In November of 2019 TfL did not renew Uber’s license as it has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk. Uber’s new London license will last 18 months and comes with several conditions jointly agreed by Uber and Transport for London (TfL). Read more.

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