Nokia will replace Huawei as BT's largest 5G equipment provider

A shadow of hand holding a smartphone with "5G" displayed on screen. UK flag is seen in the background.
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BT has chosen Nokia as its 5G radio access network (RAN) vendor to replace Huawei, making the Finnish telecom its largest infrastructure partner and equipment provider.

The partnership will also see Nokia replace Huawei in BT's 2G and 4G networks.

Nokia announced today that it had signed a deal extending its long-term strategic relationship with BT. As a part of the partnership, the company will help to expand BT’s radio access network to 5G by providing equipment and services at BT radio sites, such as its AirScale Single RAN (S-RAN) portfolio for both indoor and outdoor coverage, AirScale base stations, as well as Nokia AirScale radio access products.

These solutions will allow BT to build on its existing network leadership in the UK in order to deliver connectivity and capacity benefits to consumers at ultra-low latencies and increase cost efficiencies.

The Finnish company said that it will collaborate with BT on the developing OpenRAN ecosystem, and provide its Cell Site Gateway product for key backhaul connectivity.

BT will also utilise Nokia Software’s ng-SDM and NetAct network management platform, which build upon an existing network architecture to provide a single platform for new 5G-based services.

Lastly, BT announced that it will be expanding its Nokia-powered network, which currently includes Greater London and the Midlands, to also cover 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.

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”.

“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 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.


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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,” he added. “We are proud to support BT’s 5G network evolution and look forward to working even more closely together in the years to come.”

The partnership follows the UK government’s July decision to ban the use of Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G infrastructure.

A Nokia spokesperson told IT Pro that the company "will support BT’s commitments to the UK government around the use of High Risk Vendors (HRVs) in UK network infrastructure".

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.