BT has signed a deal with Ericsson to deploy its dual-mode 5G Core (Evolved Packet Core and 5G Core), a fully container-based, cloud native Mobile Packet Core for 4G, 5G Non-standalone and 5G Standalone services as a single fully integrated core. The solution will be delivered on BT’s Network Cloud and will form a key component of BT’s move to a single converged IP network.

The deal includes network orchestration and automation, continuous delivery and integration processes (CI/CD), and will be integrated into BT’s existing customer experience management platforms using Ericsson Expert Analytics and built-in software probes.

Ericsson says the containerisation of core network functions will enable BT to benefit from greater industry innovation in many areas, including automation, orchestration, network resilience, security and faster upgrade techniques – increasing overall network availability for customers and services while being cost-effective. BT’s new 5G Core will help it create and deliver new services such as enhanced mobile broadband, network slicing, mobile edge computing, vertical industry support and advanced enterprise services.

“Having evaluated different 5G Core vendors, we’ve selected Ericsson as the best option on the basis of both lab performance and future roadmap,” commented BT’s Howard Watson.

Noting that Ericsson and BT have a long history of working together, Marielle Lindgren, Head of Ericsson UK and Ireland, said her company was proud to be helping to deliver the next generation of connectivity in the UK.

Despite having signed this agreement with Ericsson, the UK’s Financial Times said that BT would be unable to strip all the Huawei equipment out of its core network by the end of 2020 – its stated deadline. Howard Watson told the FT that it would meet the UK government’s restrictions on Huawei equipment in the core, and no more than 35% of its equipment in the RAN, by the government’s deadline of 2023, however. BT expects to fully launch services in 2022.

EE had a long-standing relationship with Huawei before it was acquired by BT, and has Huawei equipment in its 4G core. BT is now faced with reducing the amount of Huawei equipment in the RAN for its 4G and 5G networks, as well as removing its equipment from the core. Not only will this be expensive, but the outbreak of COVID-19 will inevitably have slowed down the undertaking as engineers are being deployed to maintain QoS and fix faults in the current network, or are off sick or isolating.

For Ericsson April is proving to be a good month, as in addition to the BT contract  Magyar Telekom revealed it had launched 5G services based on Ericsson technology, the network equipment provider announced it had won a deal to supply Nex-Tech Wireless with 5G Evolved Packet Core and Radio Access Network (RAN) supporting 5G NR Non-standalone (NSA) in key sites in Kansas, and Erillisverkot Group selected Ericsson to provide 5G core network products and solutions for the national communications network for public authorities, emergency services and other critical services in Finland.

Posted by Teresa Cottam

Teresa is the Chief Analyst at Omnisperience and has over 25 years' experience in the telecoms and technology markets. She is an expert on SME and enterprise telecoms, and has considerable vertical market expertise. Her research focus lies in helping B2B telecoms firms become more commercially successful by better understanding and meeting their customers' needs. She is a judge of the GSMA Global Mobile Awards (GloMo's) for customer experience and enterprise innovation, and for the UK Cloud awards. You can follow her on Twitter @teresacottam

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