Nokia signs €2b deals with Chinese carriers ahead of 5G

China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom have all signed deals with Nokia to improve their mobile and fixed networks in preparation for 5G.

Nokia has announced signing deals worth €2 billion with China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, which will see it deliver radio, fixed access equipment, IP routing, optical transport equipment, software-defined networking (SDN) products, and services to the carriers by the end of 2019.

The agreements will set up the providers for the "transition to 5G", Nokia Shanghai Bell president Mike Wang said, with the equipment and services designed to improve mobile and fixed network speeds, capacity, and reliability.

Specifically, Nokia will provide China Mobile with radio access, core, IP routing and optical transport, passive optical networks, SDN, network management, and professional services.

For China Telecom, Nokia will improve the carrier's 4G LTE network across China by supplying its frequency-division duplex (FDD) LTE radio access, core routers, multi-service edge routers, optics home customer premises equipment (CPE) solutions, and services expertise.

Nokia and China Telecom will additionally "enhance 5G cooperation and accelerate China's 5G progress", the networking giant said.

Lastly, China Unicom and Nokia will deploy FDD-LTE radio access equipment across China, along with multi-access edge computing, SDN, IP routing, optical transport, virtualised IMS, and fixed network equipment.

"Working with Nokia, China Unicom aims to enhance network quality and capacity to grow its 4G LTE customer base, while researching and developing the expansion of IoT services and the evolution to 5G, including the use of artificial intelligence in networks," Nokia said.

China Mobile has also been working with Huawei and Intel on 5G testing, with China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom also announcing a series of new 5G developments in September with Intel, Huawei, ZTE, Tencent, Baidu, and Unisoc.

Read also: Since 2015, China has outspent the US in 5G infrastructure by $24B

Nokia had last month announced that it would be stepping up its 5G mobile radio products push.

"Our early progress in 5G is extremely strong, we continue to increase our investment in this critical technology, and our win rate for new deals suggests that we are in a very good competitive position," CEO Rajeev Suri said in October.

The company last week then announced its successful 5G interoperability trials in partnership with Cisco, Huawei, Ericsson, Dell, HP, mobile edge technology provider Alef Mobitech, and an unnamed "tier-one global mobile carrier".

This followed Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson syncing their 5G equipment in partnership with SK Telecom in Korea, interoperating Samsung's 5G Non-standalone (NSA) switchboard with Ericsson and Nokia's 5G base stations.

In September, Nokia had announced securing €500 million in funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support its research and development (R&D) of 5G technology, with the loan backed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

"5G is happening fast, faster than most people even expected. It's anticipated that it will enable entirely new business cases, while dramatically enhancing existing wireless applications," EIB VP Alexander Stubb said.

"I think bringing 5G to the market will definitely improve people's lives."

Over in the United States, Nokia has been trialling 5G with Verizon and Sprint, is helping AT&T deploy 5G, and has signed a $3.5 billion deal with T-Mobile to help build out its 5G network.

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