Orders for 5G networks continue to build up during March: A1 Telekom Austria confirmed that it has chosen longstanding technology partner Nokia to build its next-generation mobile network, although the news comes as little surprise given that the two companies have been working together on 5G for some time.
A1 already announced that Gmünd is the first city where it is rolling out a 5G network in collaboration with Nokia. The Austrian incumbent is now able to step up the pace of its network rollout after it secured 5G-specific spectrum during the country’s recent auction process. The contract with Nokia includes both the radio access network (RAN) and cloud-native 5G core technology.
Somewhat controversially, A1’s domestic rivals, Hutchison Drei and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile Austria, appear to be sticking to their Chinese network partners, despite the global furore surrounding the use of Chinese equipment in highly sensitive parts of 5G networks.
Hutchison Drei previously unveiled a 5G partnership with ZTE, while T-Mobile Austria and Huawei started a 5G trial in Innsbruck early last year. It’s not yet clear to what extent the two networks will rely on technology from the respective vendors, however.
According to Austrian media reports, T-Mobile Austria is on track to be the first to turn on its 5G network as soon as Tuesday. The operator has already said it would launch 25 5G sites this month. However, the network will mainly be used for marketing and technology demonstration purposes ahead of a nationwide launch, which will require tens of thousands of 5G sites to be installed.
Meanwhile the European Union appears to be ignoring U.S. calls to ban Huawei equipment and will instead propose rules that will ensure any potential security risks associated with future 5G networks are fully monitored. According to Reuters, the European Commission plans to set out its strategy this week, calling on member states of the EU to exchange information about security risks and collaborate on the certification of connected devices and 5G equipment. Each member state would then be left to decide whether or not to use one of the China-based vendors.
5G Network Launches
Despite all the noise around 5G, it’s worth pointing out that actual network launches are still relatively thin on the ground. According to new research from Hadden Telecoms, there have been 15 5G network launches to date – including the three operators in South Korea and AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. However, the report also found that 211 operators are now investing in 5G in 87 countries.
In terms of which vendors are being used, Huawei claims to have won over 30 5G contracts to date, compared to Nokia’s 20 contract signings and Ericsson’s 16 wins.