Tele2 revealed that Nokia is to be its primary partner for 5G core networks in the standalone era, with deployment expected to start during 2021.
The Sweden-based operator has previously been reluctant to name vendor partners for 5G because of security concerns related to China-based vendors such as Huawei. However, Sweden's position on Huawei has become a little clearer in recent weeks, which has also allowed the 5G auction to get back on track.
Tele2, which previously said it was "working with several, existing vendors" on the launch of 5G and has also described Huawei as a "viable vendor," is clearly taking the safer option by plumping for a European partner.
Nokia said it will deploy standalone 5G core and voice-over-5G technology for Tele2 operations in Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Tele2 Sweden began offering 5G services in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö in June 2020. The operator said the 5G network has now been rolled out to more than 30 cities in Sweden. Tele2 also said it was the first operator to launch 5G in Latvia.
5G back on track?
The Swedish units of Telia, Tele2 and Hi3G Access (Three Sweden) have been pressing ahead with 5G launch plans even though the auction of 5G-enabling spectrum was delayed until November 2020 and then postponed again because of the issues related to Huawei.
The auction was delayed after the Stockholm Administrative Court granted an injunction to Huawei to suspend auction proceedings after the Chinese supplier took legal action when PTS, Sweden's post and telecom agency, ruled that Huawei and ZTE were prohibited from supplying new 5G installations.
However, the Administrative Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the decision of the Stockholm Administrative Court, albeit pending a judicial review, and the 5G auction ball is rolling once more.
PTS has now named January 19 as the date when an auction of license concessions in the 3.5GHz and 2.3GHz frequency bands will commence. In October PTS approved four applicants to take part in the auction: Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility (a joint venture of Telenor and Tele2), Telia Sverige and Teracom.
In the meantime, the operators have been forced to be fairly inventive with spectrum for their new 5G networks because of the delay. Telia is using its existing 700MHz spectrum assets, Tele2 is currently relying on 80MHz in the C-band and Three Sweden is using frequencies in the 2.6GHz band.
In terms of vendors, Telia is working with local partner Ericsson, which confirmed it is providing radio access network (RAN) products and solutions.
Ericsson has previously (in 2017) indicated its involvement in Hi3G 5G network upgrades in Denmark and Sweden. However, a spokesperson for Three Sweden previously told Light Reading it did not comment "in detail" on how the mobile network is structured, noting only that the operator has "several different suppliers" and was conducting a "large procurement of 5G equipment for the network."
In December, Three Sweden said its 5G network covered 16% of the population through 460 installed 5G sites in seven cities.
- Sweden's 5G auction back on
- Telia, Tele2 and Three trumpet Swedish 5G launches
- Tele2 suspends 2020 financial guidance amid COVID-19 uncertainty
- Tele2 has slashed hundreds of jobs and more cuts are coming
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading