Nokia to provide more 5G infrastructure support for BT, replace old Huawei gear

Nokia inks deal to become BT’s primary 5G gear vendor
Image: YouTube | Nokia

Nokia just announced it made a new deal with BT Group to bring more 5G infrastructure to the United Kingdom. BT has also contracted the Finnish telecom to replace parts of its digital framework built by Huawei. The expanded partnership will make Nokia the British wireless carrier’s largest networking equipment and services provider.

Neither company has disclosed the financial terms of their new arrangement.

Details on Nokia’s New 5G Agreement with BT

Nokia’s original contract with BT required it to establish 5G infrastructure in Greater London, the Midlands, and select rural areas. The new arrangement will extend the carrier’s fifth-generation mobile data coverage into cities like Aberdeen, Cambridge, Brighton, Exeter, Ipswich, Norwich, Stoke-on-Trent, and York.

The telecom will use its low-profile, high-performance AirScale equipment to underpin the country’s 5G service zones. The firm will also deploy its NetAct platform and fifth-generation radio area network architecture (RAN) in the U.K. Those two innovations will enable BT to provide its consumer and business customers with ultra-high-speed and low-latency data connectivity.

Once the communications company completes its work, Britain will have around 11,600 radio data hubs. Nokia’s website notes over 20,000 customers currently utilize its 5G stack for smartphones, Wi-Fi, and Internet of Things (IoT) support.

Replacing BT’s 2G and 4G Infrastructure

In addition to installing BT’s new digital infrastructure, Nokia will replace part of its older data transmission equipment.

Years ago, the U.K. phone company contracted Huawei to build parts of its second and fourth-generation mobile networks. According to Bloomberg, about two-thirds of its 4G infrastructure was supplied by the Chinese conglomerate. But the British government recently issued new mandates that impacted the makeup of BT’s future and existing wireless systems.

In July, London barred British firms from acquiring new Huawei 5G equipment after December 31, 2020. The government further required local service providers to remove components of their infrastructure made by the Sino corporation by 2027. Local officials took action because they determined the Chinese networking gear provider is a threat to its national security.

Huawei and BT had collaborated on projects for 15 years before the new regulations.

Oliver Dowden, the U.K.’s Digital Secretary, estimated the infrastructure retrofit would cost £2 billion ($2.57 billion). The politician also predicted the government’s new restrictions would delay the region’s 5G rollout by 2 to 3 years.

BT hired Nokia to handle its 2G and 4G gear refresh. The firm is familiar with the systems in question because it supplied the phone company with one-third of its 4G equipment.

In a press release, BT CEO Philip Jensen said Nokia’s work on its networks would create new jobs and help Britain’s economy grow.


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