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5G

Nokia missing from Verizon's C-band frenzy

Verizon said it is currently deploying equipment from Ericsson and Samsung as part of its $10 billion project to upgrade its network with C-band spectrum.

But Nokia was not named in Verizon's announcement.

"We are announcing equipment from Samsung and Ericsson in this announcement," a Verizon representative said in response to questions from Light Reading about Nokia's absence.

"Nokia continues to work closely with Verizon on its 5G evolution plans," a Nokia representative told Light Reading.

Rumors surfaced last year that Verizon was preparing to replace Nokia with Samsung as one of its primary wireless network equipment suppliers. Just a few months later, Verizon announced a $6.6 billion deal with Samsung for 5G.

Earlier this year, Verizon agreed to spend roughly $50 billion on midband C-band spectrum licenses across most of the US. The operator in March said it expects to spend an additional $10 billion over the next three years on the necessary equipment, towers and other expenses to put those spectrum licenses into action.

Then, last week, Verizon inked agreements with tower companies Crown Castle and SBA Communications for the project. And earlier this week, Verizon said it "tapped Ericsson and Samsung to supply the Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment for this massive deployment."

Perhaps not surprisingly, both vendors boasted of their role in Verizon's C-band 5G buildout. "With Samsung's C-band Massive MIMO radio commercially available, units have been shipped for use in Verizon's state-of-the-art network," Samsung said in a release.

"Ericsson has the expertise and track record to deliver best-performing 5G networks globally, and we continue to push technological advancements with our long-standing partner Verizon in delivering on their 5G ambitions," said Graham Osborne, an Ericsson VP and head of the company's Verizon unit, in a release.

The absence of Nokia is undoubtedly a sore spot for the Finnish vendor, which has struggled to refresh its 5G equipment after falling behind rival heavyweights like Ericsson and Huawei. Indeed, Nokia's shortcomings tripped up Sprint's 5G efforts prior to T-Mobile's acquisition of the operator.

Thus, it appears that Verizon – one of the world's largest wireless network operators – believes South Korea's Samsung is ready to step into the big leagues.

However, Verizon's apparent attitude toward Nokia does not appear to have spread to other 5G providers in the US. For example, T-Mobile earlier this year announced "multi-billion-dollar" agreements with Nokia and Ericsson for its ongoing midband 5G buildout. That's noteworthy considering Sprint – acquired by T-Mobile last year – was a Samsung customer.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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