Nokia signs major 5G deal with BT in the UK

29 Sep 2020

Image: © Sundry Photography/

The deal will make Nokia BT’s largest equipment provider, with plans to deliver additional base stations and antennas.

Following the UK’s recent decision to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G networks, Finnish telecoms firm Nokia looks set to benefit from a new partnership with BT.

In a statement released today (29 September), Nokia announced that it has extended its long-term strategic relationship with BT into the 5G arena, having been selected as a 5G radio access network (RAN) vendor for the UK telecoms operator.

The deal means that Nokia will be BT’s largest equipment partner, providing equipment and services at BT radio sites across the UK. According to BBC News, the deal will also see Nokia replace Huawei in BT’s 2G and 4G networks.

New restrictions in the UK, which were announced in July, mean that mobile operators will not be allowed to buy Huawei’s 5G technology from 31 December of this year and must remove all existing Huawei technology from 5G networks by 2027.

The beneficiaries of the ban

Nokia already had a partnership with BT, with its network currently including greater London, the midlands and rural locations. This will now be extended to also cover multiple other towns and cities across the UK.

While Nokia’s statement didn’t mention Huawei directly, the company said its enhanced footprint will support BT’s commitments to the UK government around the use of “high-risk vendors” in UK network infrastructure.

BT Group’s CEO, Philip Jansen, said making “the right technology choices” in such a fast-moving and competitive market is “critical”.

“With this next stage of our successful relationship with Nokia we will continue to lead the roll-out of fixed and mobile networks to deliver standout experiences for customers.”

Together, Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson control about 80pc of the global market for mobile base stations. However, as Huawei continues to face obstacles in the UK and the US over security concerns, Ericsson could stand to reap some benefits in a similar way to Nokia.

In December 2019, Three Ireland signed a deal with Ericsson to provide the infrastructure for its 5G network, which was switched on yesterday (28 September).

Vodafone Ireland is also using Ericsson technology as part of its 5G roll-out, with plans to have 30pc population coverage by March of next year.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic