BT selects Nokia for 5G equipment in Huawei phase out

By Robert Scammell

Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia has secured a deal to supply 5G network equipment to BT, in a move that will help the mobile provider phase out Huawei kit.

Nokia will supply its 5G radio access network (RAN) technology becoming BT’s largest infrastructure partner.

The deal will see BT’s Nokia-powered network extended to “multiple” other towns and cities across the UK. BT, which owns mobile provider EE, already uses Nokia kit in Greater London, the Midlands, and other rural locations.

In July the government banned UK telecoms from buying new Huawei 5G kit from 2021 in a major U-turn. Mobile providers must also remove all existing Huawei technology from their networks by 2027.

The government has classed Huawei as a “high-risk vendor” due to the company’s close ties to the Chinese state, which critics say make it a security threat. Huawei has consistently denied these allegations.

Nokia will supply its AirScale Single Ran portfolio to BT. RAN equipment is located in towers to beam signals between the network provider and customer mobile devices. The deal will mean Nokia provides around two-thirds of BT’s RAN equipment, the BBC reports.

BT will also use Nokia kit for EE’s 2G and 4G networks.

BT-Nokia deal: OpenRAN plans

Nokia and BT will also work together on developing an OpenRAN ecosystem, an approach where telecommunication equipment is interoperable so that multiple providers can supply specific parts rather than the entire technology stack.

In April BT selected Swedish telco Ericsson to provide its 5G core technology.

“In a fast-moving and competitive market, it’s critical we make the right technology choices,” said Philip Jansen, CEO, BT Group.

“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.”

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.”

Read more: Nokia wins €400m 5G deal with Taiwan Mobile