A1 selects Nokia, Ericsson tech for service roll-outs across middle Europe

Provider of digital services and communications solutions in Central and Eastern Europe chooses Nordic network technology suppliers for 5G roll-out in key selected markets

A1 Telekom Austria Group has chosen Scandinavian network equipment suppliers Nokia and Ericsson as partners in the roll-out of 5G networks in the markets of Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

A1 supplies digital services and communications systems in Central and Eastern Europe with about 25 million customers, currently operating in seven countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Belarus, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Nokia and Ericsson are already longstanding strategic partners for the operator. By selecting them, A1 Telekom Austria Group took a decision to evolve its networks and services, said Alexander Kuchar, director group technology and future services. “We are demonstrating a strong commitment to providing the best user experience in terms of communications and entertainment services on a high-class and secure infrastructure to our B2C and B2B customers,” he said. “At the same time, we are taking a strong stand on virtualisation, automation and simplification of our network architecture.”

In Bulgaria, Nokia is building the radio network and Ericsson the core network; in Croatia, Ericsson is responsible for both radio and core network; in Serbia and Slovenia, Nokia is responsible for both radio and packet core network. In Austria, it was announced in spring 2019 that Nokia would be the chosen partner in the 5G roll-out of both radio and core network domains.

Nokia, a longstanding partner of A1, has worked collaboratively to introduce 3G and 4G mobile networks as well as Austria’s largest fibre-optic network and multiple private wireless campus installations. Nokia is already providing A1 with 5G coverage across Austria and says it will evolve its strategic partnership with the operator in the expanded deal.

A1’s multi-country, single-supplier deal with the Finnish firm will see Nokia provide 5G RAN systems from its AirScale portfolio to all three markets and 5G standalone core network to Serbia and Slovenia. The deployment is already under way in Bulgaria and is expected to start imminently in all other markets. 

Equipment will include AirScale radio access products to deliver speed, connectivity and capacity to A1 subscribers, while Nokia cloud-native 5G standalone core software will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to enable near-zero-touch automation capabilities for A1 in Serbia and Slovenia to drive greater scale and reliability. Nokia says its open 5G standalone core architecture will also give A1 the flexibility to be responsive to market demands while controlling costs at a time of growing network complexity by streamlining operations and unlocking crucial capabilities, such as network slicing.

A1 says it is committed to continually improving and expanding its network infrastructure to maintain its position as market leader. To facilitate this, Nokia says it will also support A1 in its efforts to cover all major populated communities as well as main roads within the next five years. It guarantees that the roll-out will also offer innovative new services to consumers as well as vertical industries such as Industry 4.0.

“As we take steps towards the introduction of 5G in these new markets, it is imperative we have the best network infrastructure to offer our customers commercial 5G services that delivers all the technological advantages and benefits of 5G,” said Kuchar. “We are therefore pleased to continue our partnership with Nokia, and I look forward to working collaboratively with them to deploy market-leading digital services on this multi-market project.”

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