Ericsson bags more 5G RAN work with O2 UK

Ericsson says Telefónica UK (O2 UK) has selected its 5G RAN kit to go "even further."

When O2 announced that Ericsson, along with Nokia, were its main 5G kit providers last October, the Swedish supplier's equipment was lined up for the cities of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds. (Nokia kit was allocated for Slough and in London.)

Ericsson said that the "extended partnership" with O2 includes "hardware, software and service upgrades in the west of the UK, bringing greater coverage, voice and data capacity." Coverage now includes Manchester and Liverpool, as well as Cardiff.

There was also talk of an "innovation cluster" in the Ericsson press release. This is apparently to be developed as a "collaboration platform to evaluate and test future mobile architecture, technology and systems." The idea, it seems, is to help O2 migrate toward the standalone version of 5G New Radio.

Does Ericsson's gain mean Nokia's loss, or was the expansion described by the Swedish supplier planned from the outset? O2 UK was non-committal. "We are pleased to be moving forward with Ericsson as one of our primary vendors for our 5G rollout," said Brendan O'Reilly, O2's CTO.

Where's Huawei?
When O2 pushed ahead with 5G last year, there were some reports it was still using 5G equipment from Huawei on some sites in London. Whether or not Nokia has picked up more business in London, with Huawei perhaps phased out as geopolitics take its toll on the Chinese supplier, is another fuzzy area for market watchers.

Globally, however, helped in no small measure by its enormous domestic market, Huawei is still well ahead of RAN rivals.

In terms of overall RAN rankings, research firm Dell'Oro found no change in Q1 2020 compared with the previous quarter – Huawei is still the leader, followed in descending order by Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung.

"The gap between Huawei and Ericsson/Nokia widened somewhat in the quarter, reflecting Huawei's share gains in China," said Stefan Pongratz, vice president at Dell'Oro.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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