Nokia scores 5G deal in Austria

Nokia has inked a 5G core and access deal with A1 in Austria, which is obviously good news, but not necessarily a major step forward the Finnish vendor.

The deal is an extension of Nokia’s longstanding relationship with the Austrian incumbent, so this is a contract it would reasonably expect to win. You could argue that not winning it would have been significantly more newsworthy.

Nokia has signed a multi-year contract to supply A1 with 5G radio access and core network services. A1 is buying Nokia’s AirScale kit, including 5G RAN, base stations, and radio access products, and the pair are talking up the connectivity and capacity benefits to A1’s consumer and business customers.

It’s a fairly standard 5G contract announcement. Why the negativity?

Essentially, because what Nokia needs is new customers. As and sister publication LightReading pointed out earlier this month, Nokia’s share of the 4G and 5G markets outside of China was flat in 2020 and is expected to fall by a couple of percentage points this year, and revenues at the firm’s mobile access division are on the slide.

Maintaining its traction with existing customers is, of course, hugely important for Nokia. But being able to trumpet a truly new deal would be a sign that it was turning things around.

“We are delighted to extend our long-standing partnership with A1 Austria into the 5G era by supplying our RAN and core technology,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, in a statement. “We have already worked collaboratively with A1 on a number of exciting projects and we take this expansion project as an affirmation that our technology is best-in-class.”

Nokia listed 3G and 4G network expansion projects, fibre network rollout, and a number of campus-based private mobile networks as examples of its work with A1 in recent years. The pair have also piloted 4G and 5G network slicing, and A1 now plans to launch commercial offers based on the technology, Nokia added.

Nokia said it has already begun deploying products and services under the new, extended contract with A1 and said it expects the core element to be rolled out in the first half of 2021…a year that is shaping up to be a crucial one for the vendor in the mobile network space.

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