BT will be replacing its Huawei equipment with Ericsson radio antennas in a bid to comply with the government ban of the Chinese company’s products in the UK.
Other companies such as NEC and Samsung were not chosen due to the added complications of having to integrate their systems into BT’s network.
The deal will see BT use Ericsson for up to 50% of its 5G traffic, reducing the company’s dependence on Nokia, its other radio access network (Ran) equipment provider.
The government announced in July that buying Huawei’s 5G telecoms infrastructure would be banned after the 31st December, and in addition that all mobile providers in the UK must remove existing 5G equipment by 2027.
This decision came as a result of US sanctions on the company, which claimed Huawei posed a threat to national security.
The Chinese telecommunications giant denies this and reported that a ban of its equipment in the UK would cost thousands of jobs and billions of pounds.
BT has already begun replacing equipment in the most data sensitive “core” of its network which routes data and voice calls across servers.
Despite the threat to national security Huawei did provide healthy competition in the telecommunications market and some industry leaders have expressed concern that Huawei’s exit may cause an upswing in the price of 5G.
Kester Mann of CCS Insight said that “It raises concerning questions about vendor diversity as operators become reliant on a seemingly ever-diminishing number of leading suppliers. Vendor choice is important for a healthy ecosystem – it can spur innovation and help bring down costs.”
Long term a new solution is being looked at to reduce the need to remove expensive hardware.
This idea called OpenRan will aim to standardise telecommunications hardware to eliminate the remove for physical re-installations.
Instead companies will be switched out through software changes, a huge cost saving.