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Orange France contracts Nokia and Ericsson for 5G network technology

Leading telco teams with Finish and Swedish comms tech giants as part of its ambition to realise a 5G network in France in 2020

In what could be a tour de force for the Nordic comms tech companies, Orange France has contracted Nokia and Ericsson to provide it with a range of products and services to support its the roll-out of its 5G network over the country.

After beginning its assessment of 5G tech suppliers in 2019, Orange said the Nordic comms tech giants had demonstrated the quality of their products, their support and commitment to a high-quality customer experience on the mobile network for many years. Under the terms of the deal, the firms will provide a package of products and services – including antennas and associated professional services – that will enable the deployment of 5G across the country.

The partnership with Nokia is focused on the west and south-east regions of France, zones where Nokia already supplies 2G, 3G and 4G on the mobile radio access network (RAN).

Nokia will supply technology from its end-to-end 5G portfolio, including single radio access network (RAN) technology, automation tools, network management solutions and associated professional services. It will initially support Orange’s 5G commercial launch by enabling the rollout of its SRAN network to 5G through software upgrades, streamlining the initial steps to build 5G. It will also introduce 5G New Radio (5G NR)-based AirScale hardware, and software for the new 5G frequency bands.

The deal builds on Nokia’s existing market share and long history with Orange, and the Finnish comms firm says that the infrastructure investment will allow Orange France to significantly improve customer experience, boost network capacity, enable further automation and create new innovative services that require ultra-high bandwidth and low latency. The new network will see use in providing mobile broadband services as well as allowing Orange to provide applications in areas such as industrial, internet of things (IoT), health and public safety.

The partnership with Ericsson is focused on the Ile de France, north-east and south-west regions, zones where Ericsson already supplies 2G, 3G and 4G technology on the mobile RAN.

Commenting on the deal, Fabienne Dulac, deputy chief executive officer and CEO of Orange France, said: “For Orange, the deployment of 5G represents a huge challenge and is one of the main priorities of our Engage 2025 strategic plan. We are delighted to be pursuing our partnership with Nokia, a key long-term partner, in order to develop a powerful and innovative 5G network. 5G will enable the development of new use-cases and new services, and will provide an enriched experience for our customers – both in the consumer and business segments. Through this agreement, Orange reaffirms its ambition to being network leader.”

The new comes just over a week after the telco announced its roadmap for Europe in 2020, showing the power of convergence and the need for 5G ecosystem partnerships. Speaking in London, Ramon Fernandez, delegate chief executive officer of finance, performance and Europe at Orange, highlighted the performance of Orange’s key business areas in Europe and noted that the business’s strategic proposition in 2020 would be centred on convergence and the need for ecosystem partnerships, especially in terms of 5G.

The company’s ambition to reinvent operating models, said Fernandez, would be achieved through enhanced connectivity and a more valued infrastructure – namely, a fixed and mobile infrastructure that would support new 5G and fibre services.

Fernandez added that the first challenge for the company would be to acquire by auction the sector resources in the relevant countries and he assured that all of the Orange Europe countries would have a 5G play by the end of 2020 at the latest.

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