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Nokia 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 also replace Huawei in the firm’s 2G and 4G networks. It already provides BT’s 3G EE network.
The news comes after the U.K. said in July that it would ban Huawei equipment from its 5G network rollout, and it suggests Nokia is replacing Huawei’s remaining share of infrastructure in BT’s 5G network.
BT’s Nokia-powered network, which currently includes Greater London, the Midlands and rural locations, will be extended to also cover multiple other towns and cities across the United Kingdom, mainly Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Carlisle, Cheltenham-Gloucester, Chesterfield, Dundee, Exeter, Grimsby, Hull, Ipswich, Lincoln, Newbury, Northampton, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Torbay and York.
This enhanced Nokia footprint will support BT’s commitments to the UK government around the use of High Risk Vendors (HRVs) in UK network infrastructure.
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.
As part of BT’s network transformation, the operator will also utilize Nokia Software’s ng-SDM and NetAct network management platform, supporting the network evolution to 5G. These build upon the existing network architecture and provide an immediate cornerstone and single platform for new 5G-based services. Nokia will also provide its state-of-the-art Cell Site Gateway product providing key backhaul connectivity.
Nokia will also provide digital design and deployment for a faster time to market as well as optimization and technical support services.
Commenting on the announcement, BT Group CEO Philip Jansen described digital connectivity as “critical to the UK’s economic future, creating jobs and underpinning sustainable growth”.
“Digital connectivity is critical to the UK’s economic future, creating jobs and underpinning sustainable growth. That’s why BT is making game-changing investments in full fibre and 5G. In a fast-moving and competitive market, it’s critical we make the right technology choices. With this next stage of our successful relationship with Nokia we will continue to lead the rollout of fixed and mobile networks to deliver stand-out experiences for customers.”
Nokia President and CEO Pekka Lundmark said that he is “delighted” that BT extended its 5G RAN partnership with Nokia, making it BT’s largest infrastructure partner.
“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.”