The Finnish telecoms firm Nokia has struck a deal with British Telecom (BT) which will make it the largest equipment provider of the service provider as Nokia continues to benefit from the blocking of the Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei from the 5G networks in the United Kingdom.
Additional base stations and antennas that will allow EE customers’ devices to make calls and transmit data over the 5G “radio access network” of thee British firm will be supplied by Nokia according to the agreement.
Huawei in BT’s 2G and 4G networks will also be replaced with Nokia’s parts under the deal.
Nokia is already used to provide its 3G service for EE’s network.
Mobile service providers of the UK were banned from purchasing any new Huawei 5G equipment after 31 December in an announcement made by the UK government in July. The government order also ordered the wireless service providers to remove all the 5G kit of the Chinese company from their networks by 2027.
A strong relationship between BT and Huawei that dated back to 2005 was effectively brought to an end by the government decision, which was taken on national security grounds.
About a third of its 4G sites that were being upgraded to 5G have Nokia’s equipment, BT said earlier this year. The remaining equipment was procured from Huawei.
Coverage to EE customers across parts of London, the Midlands and various rural locations is provided by Nokia’s kit at present.
The use of telecoms infrastructure products from Nokia by BT will be increased according to the latest deal and the equipment is expected to be used in more cities and towns including Aberdeen, Cambridge, Dundee, Exeter, Southampton and York.
That meant that after the deal, about two-thirds of BT’s radio access kit will be from Nokia.
“It was inevitable that some of Huawei’s equipment was going to be replaced because of the government’s decision,” commented John Delaney, a telecoms analyst at IDC. “The big change here is that BT wasn’t planning to use Nokia’s equipment in many densely populated areas, and now they are. But apart from that it’s not a major departure from their earlier plans.”
The market and analysts are expecting that in order to avoid becoming solely dependent on Nokia after the outright banning of Huawei, BT will soon strike a deal to buy kit from a second vendor.
“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,” said BT’s chief executive Philip Jansen in a statement.
No comment from Huawei on the issue was available.
In order to replace Huawei’s equipment in its “core” which makes up the most sensitive parts of its wireless network and that helps to route data and voice calls across computer servers to get them to the right destination, BT had previously picked another Nordic telecoms kit provider – Ericsson.
(Adapted from BBC.com)