T-Mobile US And Nokia Sign £2.7bn 5G Network Deal

Nokia stand MWC 2016

The multi-year deal, one of the world’s first major 5G contracts, aims to deploy the US’ first nationwide next-generation services

T-Mobile US has sealed a $3.5 billion (£2.7bn) contract with Nokia to supply it with equipment for a deployment of 5G services across the United States, in one of the first major 5G deals worldwide.

The carrier said it would use its partnership with Nokia to deliver the US’ first nationwide 5G services.

The multi-year deal is to see Nokia supplying 5G hardware, software and services that T-Mobile can use to exploit licensed 600 MHz spectrum and ultra high-speed 28 MHz capacity in densely populated urban areas, the companies said.

Nokia is to supply T-Mobile with its AirScale radio access platform as well as cloud-connected hardware, software and acceleration services.

‘We are all in on 5G’

T-Mobile, which is controlled by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, is currently battling regulators over its plans to acquire competitor Sprint, with its arguments largely focused on the need for more scale in order to invest effectively in 5G.

“We are all in on 5G,” said T-Mobile chief technology officer Neville Ray. “Every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar, and our agreement with Nokia underscores the kind of investment we’re making to bring customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network.”

To date telecommunications companies have resisted large investments in 5G, a technology that largely remains to be defined and which some firms have viewed as a means of achieving incremental upgrades to existing data services, rather than a platform for significant new features.

The tech is intended to greatly increase mobile bandwidth while reducing latency, features considered key for new uses such as industrial automation, driverless cars and medical monitoring.

The beginning of a new-generation investment round would be welcome news to telecoms equipment makers, led by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson, who have seen sales stagnate since 4G rollouts peaked in 2015.

Nokia and Ericsson are well positioned to handle significant portions of 5G deployments in countries such as Australia and the US, which have both said they intend to restrict the participation of Chinese giants Huawei and ZTE in building their countries’ next-generation infrastructure.