In a deal that makes the comms tech firm the sole core 5G supplier in three of its key territories and further expands the business relationship between the two companies, Southeast Europe alternative telecom provider United Group has chosen Nokia to upgrade its cloud native mobile core network in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.
Founded in 2020 as a small cable company, United Group has expanded over the years through the acquisition and formation of a number of assets including SBB, Telemach Slovenia and Telemach BiH. In 2012, the companies formed together to become United Group. Since then, it has grown through a number of acquisitions including cable TV operators, content platforms and mobile service providers that have expanded both its customer offering and its presence across the region.
Currently, United Group provides fixed and mobile telephony to a large number of households and offices in the region. In its key markets, the group companies also offer data and voice services, as well as certified managed services to small, medium and large companies.
It claims to be the leading multi-play telecoms and media provider in South East Europe, providing customers with a full range of telecommunications services with the broadest network coverage in the region. As of 31 March 2021, it managed 10.89 million revenue generating units in eight countries passing 3.72 million homes.
As part of its enhancement programme, United Group will aims to make improvements to quality, capacity and security that will support the introduction of next-generation digital services across Southeast Europe, including new enhanced 5G services for both residential and business customers.
As it manages and expands it network, United Group will use a number of Nokia products, including subscriber data management (SDM) software to securely and reliably control its network data and integrate multi-supplier and multi-technology environments.
Moreover, Nokia’s core products – including Cloud Packet Core, Voice Core, 3G Core and Cloud Infrastructure – will see use in managing critical network functionality and give United Group’s operators the speed, intelligence and security to deliver 5G services, like network slicing, while cost-effectively managing the operator’s network with near zero-touch automation and adherence to service level agreements.
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The core deployments will be rolled out initially for United Group’s 3G and 4G networks on the cloud, via Nokia’s cloud infrastructure, starting by the third quarter of this year. United Group will then roll out 5G non-standalone and standalone services.
The technology upgrades will also aim to allow United Group’s mobile operators – Vivacom in Bulgaria and Telemach in Croatia and Slovenia – to realise the increased amount connectivity they need to support the number of devices that require an internet connection as well as ultrareliable network connections to support the applications and services that United Group says are critical to the digital transformation of modern industry.
The upgrades are part of a five-year plan of more than €900m in investments that United Group, the leading provider of telecommunications and media in the region, is making to modernise both its mobile and fixed networks in order to deliver superior connectivity and advanced products and services to millions of new and existing customers.
United Group expects developments such as Gbps mobile connectivity, low latency-based services, enhanced data plans, and fixed-wireless access to be key drivers in the coming years of both digitisation and competitiveness in the markets it serves.
“The surge in connected devices and all the demands that mobile users have today require a powerful wireless network that can transfer large volumes of data fast, securely and with very low latency,” said United Group chief technology officer Željko Batistić. “With Nokia’s support we are building Southeast Europe’s best mobile network, one focused on quality, performance, and product innovation. The investments we are making – in both mobile and fixed – will guarantee that United Group’s users always have access to the very best our industry has to offer.”
Earlier this year, Nokia announced that it will deploy a fibre network and in-home mesh Wi-Fi solution across the eight countries where United Group operates. The agreement also expands the relationship between Nokia and United Group after the Dutch-based company earlier this year selected Nokia to support its rollout of a next-generation fibre network across Southeast Europe that will be the most advanced in the region.
Commenting on the new deployments, Mikko Lavanti, vice-president, head of Central Europe and Central Asia, Nokia, said: “Nokia is delighted to further support United Group’s strong market position in Southeast Europe. Nokia’s market leading core portfolio continues to demonstrate its breadth, reliability and innovation using true cloud capabilities and centralised or distributed deployment. We look forward to delivering UG and its customers superior network performance and scale.”