Nokia, Ericsson score 5G tech wins with Orange, Proximus

Centre of politics becomes centre of 5G activity as incumbent telcos tap Nordic comms giants to build out next-generation infrastructures

Nordic communication systems providers Nokia and Ericsson have struck gold in Belgium with deals to supply essential technology for the next-generation networks of Orange and Proximus.

As well as selecting Nokia’s technology for the roll-out of 5G, Orange Belgium has chosen it to progressively renew its existing 2G/3G/4G mobile radio network. The telco will start rolling out 5G, depending on frequency availability and EMF restrictions, in order to “offer the best possible connectivity” and to avoid saturation on the legacy networks for its customers, but also to enable businesses to take full advantage of the industrial opportunities offered by 5G.

Nokia will build a single radio access network (RAN) and 5G network in Belgium. As the sole radio supplier for 5G network evolving to standalone mode, it will also provide its AirScale radio system covering the whole 3.5GHz spectrum, offering ultra-broadband to Orange subscribers.

In the first step of deployment, Orange Belgium’s 5G radio network will be associated with its existing core network – provided by Ericsson – which can already work with the 5G radio infrastructure in non-standalone (NSA) mode. In parallel, Orange Belgium is preparing the future evolution of its core network to support 5G SA (standalone), in order to offer the full 5G end-to-end functionalities in a second step that will include advanced functionality such as network slicing and guaranteed performance.

Orange Belgium believes it will ultimately have a state-of-the-art and future-proof mobile network to benefit its customers and one that will also help it achieve its CO2-reduction objectives, thanks to the significantly increased energy efficiency of 5G infrastructures.

“We are thrilled to start a new partnership with Nokia to roll out a best-in-class, energy-efficient and future-proof mobile radio access network in Belgium,” said Orange Belgium CEO Xavier Pichon. “This will ensure the best user experience for residential and business customers, be it on 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G.”

After selecting Nokia, Orange Belgium’s corporate financial guidance on its expected benefits and implementation costs of the network remains unchanged. It attributed this to a RAN sharing agreement with rival Proximus, which has chosen Ericsson to implement a new 5G core network in its cloud infrastructure. The cloud-native system is based on Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core, which will also be used for the 4G network renewal.

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The deployment will be the first large-scale collaboration between the two companies in Belgium. It will see the use of Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core, which is fully designed for cloud deployment and comprises Cloud Packet Core, Cloud UDM and Policy and Signalling Controller products.

By combining Evolved Packet Core and 5G Core network functions into a common cloud-native platform, Ericsson says Proximus will enjoy efficient total cost of ownership and a smooth transition to 5G.

“The decision to collaborate with Ericsson is an important step in the execution of our network strategy,” said Proximus network business unit chief Geert Standaert. “Proximus is committed to building the best gigabit network for Belgium, and the renewal of our mobile network equipment is a key element in this strategy for the coming years.

“Together with Ericsson, we will work hard to build a best-in-class, energy-efficient and future-proof mobile network for the benefit of the entire country.”

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