BT picks Nokia to replace Huawei equipment in EE’s 2G and 4G mobile networks and expand its 5G footprint across the UK
- The UK government banned firms from purchasing 5G equipment from Huawei
- Mobile providers can’t buy any new Huawei equipment from the end of this year
- Nokia has won the contract to replace BT Huawei equipment and install new gear
- It is thought Nokia will now power as much as 63 per cent of the BT/EE network
Nokia has secured a deal with BT to replace Huawei equipment in its EE network including replacing 2G, 4G infrastructure and expand the 5G network.
From the end of this year British operators won’t be able to purchase 5G components from China’s Huawei and have to remove existing equipment by 2027.
The Finnish company will install 63 per cent of the BT 5G infrastructure, potentially as many as 11,600 radio sites, according to sources familiar with the deal.
Nokia already powers BTs network in Greater London, the Midlands and some rural locations – so this deal extends that existing contract to much of the rest of the UK.
The Finnish company will install 63 per cent of the BT 5G infrastructure, potentially as many as 11,600 radio sites, according to sources familiar with the deal
The decision to ban Huawei from supplying 5G equipment in the UK came in July after US sanctions were introduced against the Chinese firm.
The UK network was an early target for Huawei, so its technology is firmly embedded, making removing it a complex job for Britain’s mobile operators.
BT was a major customer, so this shift to Nokia will involve a considerable change including the purchase of new base stations and access points.
Philip Jansen, CEO, BT Group said digital connectivity was critical to the UKs economic future and would result in new jobs and underpin 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,’ he said.
Nokia had a 21 per cent share of the global radio access network (RAN) market in 2019, versus 29 per cent for Ericsson and Huawei’s 31 per cent.
While Nokia has been winning contracts from operators across the world, it suffered a setback earlier this month when it lost out to Samsung Electronics on a part of a contract to supply new 5G equipment to Verizon in the US.
Paolo Pescatore, a tech analyst described the deal as a ‘big win for Nokia’ given the competitive nature of the market for mobile infrastructure.
The decision to ban Huawei from supplying 5G equipment in the UK came in July after US sanctions were introduced against the Chinese firm
‘It was important for BT (and EE) to move quickly to avoid loosing any further ground in 5G rollout,’ he explained.
Adding that: ‘A massive job now awaits in stripping out Huawei and ensuring minimal disruption to customers.’
Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO, Nokia, said the deal makes Nokia BT largest infrastructure partner, extending over 25 years of collaboration.
‘We are proud to support BT’s 5G network evolution and look forward to working even more closely together in the years to come.’
WHY DO BRITISH INTELLIGENCE THINK HUAWEI’S PRODUCTS MAY POSE A SECURITY THREAT?
China’s controversial telecommunications equipment maker Huawei openly supports the ruling Communist Party.
Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineer, founded the company in 1987 and it has risen to rank among the world’s top manufacturers of network equipment.
But his PLA service has led to concerns of close links with the Chinese military and government, which Huawei has consistently denied.
Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineer, founded the company in 1987 and it has risen to rank among the world’s top manufacturers of network equipment. But his PLA service has led to concerns of close links with the Chinese military and government, which Huawei has consistently denied
Huawei operates in 170 countries and the company says one third of the world’s population communicate using its products in some way.
It is the world’s second largest network equipment supplier behind Sweden’s Ericsson, and has made a large push into consumer products such smartphones in recent years.
Fears around its capabilities to tap into sensitive information stem from rumours of backdoors in in the firm’s software.
Although no such vulnerability has ever been found, allegations for their capabilities range from the ability to tap into encrypted data to knocking out communications facilities.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, has not claimed to find evidence of such vulnerabilities.
However, intelligence experts say they can only provide limited assurances that the Chinese company is not a risk to broadband and phone networks in the UK.
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