Nokia denies being told to up 5G game by DT, but wins Orange 5G RAN contract

Finnish comms technology firm Nokia reportedly instructed by Deutsche Telekom to improve products to be considered as Huawei replacement, but lands 5G RAN contract with Orange Slovakia

The limitations placed on Huawei technology in European comms networks are opening the door to European rivals, but Nokia – one firm expected to benefit – has reportedly been given a warning by operator Deutsche Telekom that must make improvements to be considered as an alternative supplier.

A report from Reuters suggested that in November 2019, Nokia was bluntly warned that its 5G technology needed to improve if it were to be considered as a candidate for use in the telco’s nascent 5G network.

However, Reuters said that driven by the new regulations from the EU placing restrictions on Huawei technology, Nokia was being given an opportunity to redeem itself and that the Finnish firm has issued guarantees that its technology will address requirements.

While Deutsche Telekom and Nokia have denied that any such warning had been issued, both firms felt it necessary to comment on the Reuters report. Deutsche Telekom called Nokia one of the major European manufacturers, and stated that it was of strategic importance to the operator.

“It is well known that Deutsche Telekom is pursuing a multi-vendor strategy so that we are not dependent on just one supplier. This is an elementary part of our security philosophy,” said Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom board member of technology and innovation.

“However, as in the past, Deutsche Telekom will not comment on individual contractual relationships and strategic purchasing decisions. In 2019, we made many steps together with Nokia to make Deutsche Telekom’s networks evolve towards 5G readiness, including all network domains, from radio and fixed access to transport and core, and continue to do so in 2020 and onwards.”

Federico Guillén, president of customer operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) at Nokia, said: “We have been a long-term partner of Deutsche Telekom and have been proud to work with them extensively over the years, providing leading network technology and services. We continue to work extensively with Deutsche Telekom, which is one of our most significant customers, both in Europe and the US.”

If there were any doubts about Nokia's 5G technology at Deutsche Telekom, it would appear that these are not shared by rival telco Orange. Only days after revealing that Nokia would be one of the key technology partners for the development of its 5G network in France, Orange announced that Nokia has been selected by Orange Slovensko, its subsidiary in Slovakia, to prepare its radio access network (RAN) for 5G services for enterprise customers.

Nokia’s technology will see use in increasing network capacity and offer an improved user experience. Orange’s network in Slovakia will use Nokia’s 5G new radio (5G NR)-based AirScale hardware and software for the new 5G frequency bands.

Nokia will also provide its NetAct Management System together with automation and efficiency tools. The deployment will support Orange Slovensko in the evolution of its recently modernised AirScale-based 4G network by activating 5G in existing bands through pure software upgrades.

Commenting on Orange Slovensko’s ambition with its new network and its technology requirements, CEO Federico Colom said: “For a long time now, we have been working with Nokia on new radio technology innovation. This is already bringing several improvements for our customers. With this agreement, we are taking the next step towards launching next-generation mobile services, leveraging our recently modernised 5G-ready Radio Access Network.

“In the long run, this will give us a significant competitive advantage as we build the network of the future, enabling outstanding customer experience, innovation in mass and enterprise markets, lean and with optimal power consumption.”

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