BUSINESS

Ericsson to supply Cosmote with 5G equipment

VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

Cosmote is Greece’s first mobile communications provider to prepare for the 5G era via a network upgrade contract it is to sign soon with Sweden’s Ericsson.

The estimated €170 million contract, expected to be signed early January, includes both fourth- and fifth-generation equipment. It involves upgrading existing base stations and antennas across Greece as well as creating new ones.

This is the first time Cosmote  relies on a single supplier for upgrading its network, According to sources, this is a policy dictated by majority owner Deutsche Telekom, which wants all its subsidiaries in countries with a population below 20 million to use a single supplier.

There are, of course, losers from the implementation of this strategy: the most obvious one, if the contract with Ericsson is signed, is Nokia, which, until now, had a 60 percent share in Cosmote’s radio network supplies. Nokia provided equipment for Cosmote’s southern Greek network and Ericsson for northern Greece.

Another loser is China’s Huawei, which had hoped to share the contract with Ericsson. If Cosmote’s management ever entertained the possibility, pressure from the United States, to Greece and the EU as a whole, put paid to any such plans.

Nokia and Huawei, however, remain suppliers of Cosmote’s core, or backbone, network  And it is the core network that is more important for the security of communications, although its overall value is far lower than the radio network’s (10-20 percent of the total network value, compared to the radio network’s 80-90 percent).

Huawei also accounts for most of the equipment Cosmote’s mother company OTE SA uses in its landline network, especially broadband services.

The 5G equipment will be delivered after the 5G mobile communications licenses are awarded, at the end of 2020 or in early 2021.

Among Cosmote’s competitors, Vodafone, or rather its parent company, started, in October, a competitive bidding for 5G equipment for 14 European countries, including Greece, while Wind Hellas has not yet begun looking for 5G suppliers.

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