BT signs deal with Nokia as fallout from Huawei 5G ban takes effect

Nokia has signed a major deal with BT that will make it one of the winners from the 5G ban on Huawei.

The agreement makes the Finnish company BT’s largest equipment provider, supplying base stations and antennas to radio sites across the UK used by the EE 5G mobile network.

As well as being picked as a 5G radio access network (RAN) vendor, Nokia will also take on work across BT’s 2G and 4G networks.

The fallout for Huawei comes after the Government decided in July to ban the Chinese firm from having a role in the country’s 5G network, owing to tougher US sanctions restricting Huawei’s ability to build chips.

As a result, British telecoms firms were told to remove Huawei equipment from the 5G network by 2027 and stop purchasing new 5G equipment from it by the end of the year.

Such changes are expected to cost billions across the telecommunications industry and delay the deployment of 5G by up to three years.

Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT Group, said it is “critical we make the right technology choices” in the “fast-moving and competitive market”.

“With this next stage of our successful relationship with Nokia, we will continue to lead the rollout of fixed and mobile networks to deliver standout experiences for customers,” said.

Nokia’s kit was already being used by BT in Greater London, the Midlands and rural locations, but this enhanced deal will see it used across other towns and cities.

These include: Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Carlisle, Cheltenham-Gloucester, Chesterfield, Dundee, Exeter, Grimsby, Hull, Ipswich, Lincoln, Newbury, Northampton, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Torbay and York.

Paolo Pescatore, an analyst from PP Foresight, described the partnership as a “big win” for Nokia given the competitive nature of the market.

“A massive job now awaits in stripping out Huawei and ensuring minimal disruption to customers,” he said.