Telefónica has an ambitious timescale for its 5G deployment, and it has tapped Nokia to put it on the right track.
The Finnish kit maker has been a long-standing 5G partner of Telefónica’s: the two have been working on the technology together since 2018 as part of the Spanish incumbent’s Technological Cities trial in Segovia. It follows then that Nokia would be in with a solid chance of bagging a commercial 5G contract.
It is an all-encompassing agreement that will see Nokia supply its AirScale RAN products, as well as support the development of Telefónica’s IP, optical transport, and fibre networks. Nokia is also providing rollout and support services.
“We look forward to extending our long-standing relationship with Telefónica into the 5G era and introduce a range of compelling new services across Spain. We will help Telefónica execute its strategy and deliver compelling and transformative experiences, using Nokia’s 5G solutions for businesses and consumers,” said Tommi Uitto, president of Nokia’s mobile networks division, in a statement.
Telefónica switched on its 5G network at the beginning of the month, and it aims cover 75 percent of the population by the end of this year. It is a bold plan and it needs to be because the number of 5G providers in Spain has jumped from one to four in the space of less than two weeks.
Earlier this week, Orange Spain launched 5G services in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla and Malaga at no additional cost. Two days later, Masmovil – which offers mobile services through a combination of its own infrastructure and as a virtual player on Orange’s network – reportedly (report in Spanish) launched commercial 5G services via Orange’s network for customers of its low-cost brand, Yoigo. It has also launched a 5G trial in a further 10 cities using its own infrastructure.
Before September, Spain had just one 5G MNO in the form of Vodafone, which commercially launched 5G services in 15 cities in June 2019. The rollout was extended in May this year to another six locations. Vodafone doesn’t divulge the number of Spanish 5G customers in its financial reports, but it is safe to say that with a head-start over its rivals of more than a year, it is in pole position.
An intense competitive environment is taking shape then, and as the incumbent, Telefónica is keen to lead the market on network quality. “Our network has always been a differential asset. People’s lives pass through it and it has demonstrated unparalleled strength when it’s been most needed,” said Telefónica executive chairman José María Álvarez-Pallete, upon the launch of the 5G network earlier this month.
For Nokia, meanwhile, the deal in Spain means it now supplies all five of Telefónica’s operating units in Europe with 5G equipment. It must also be welcome news to Nokia that a long-term partner is sticking with it, in light of developments earlier this week.
Indeed, Samsung revealed on Monday it has won a €6.6 billion deal to supply network equipment to US telco giant Verizon. Judging by rumours that circulated this summer, it is likely that Samsung has been chosen over Nokia to supply the kit for approximately 50 percent of Verizon’s 5G RAN, while Ericsson will take care of the other 50 percent.