Nokia on Wednesday announced mobile operators Tele2 and Telenor, through their joint venture Net4Mobility, signed a new 5-year deal with the vendor to expand 5G services in Sweden.

Tele2 and Telenor at the start of the year already named Ericsson and Nokia as suppliers for the joint 5G network, following Sweden’s auction for spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. Net4Mobility acquired 100 MHz of the mid-band spectrum for 5G.

Nokia said it was previously picked by both operators for cloud core networks. Today’s announcement focused on radio access network (RAN) gear from Nokia’s AirScale portfolio, including base stations and massive MIMO Adaptive Antenna solutions.

RELATED: Tele2 picks Nokia for standalone 5G core in Sweden, Baltics

The Net4Mobility radio access network carries around 60% of Sweden’s network traffic. It covers 90% of the country and nearly 100% of the population with 4G.

“This deal demonstrates Nokia’s continued momentum for both radio and 5G across Scandinavia and the Baltic region,” said Tommi Uitto, Nokia president of Mobile Networks, in a statement. “Nokia has broad experience of network sharing and we are thrilled to bring our solutions to the largest network in Sweden and deliver the best possible 5G coverage to their customers.”

5G services are to be introduced at most of the sites in areas Nokia was awarded, with the promise of improved legacy 4G performance as the existing network is upgraded.  

Replacing incumbent vendor

The Finnish supplier made a point to call out that “Nokia will replace the incumbent vendor’s 4G network” for Tele2 and Telenor Sweden’s JV “with deployment already underway.”

Back in 2009, Huawei beat out Ericsson to secure a contract for Net4Mobility’s nationwide 4G network in Sweden. More recently Huawei has been at odds with Sweden over the decision to ban Chinese vendors from 5G networks citing security risks. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) regulator set a January 2025 deadline for operators participating in the recent 5G spectrum auction to remove existing gear from Huawei and ZTE from radio access and core networks.

RELATED: Sweden wraps up 5G auction in one day

The auction concluded in January after earlier delays and a failed appeal by Huawei. The vendor filed a lawsuit against Sweden’s telecom regulators, which heard arguments in April.

Actions against Huawei have pulled Swedish rival Ericsson into the mix, which while a competing RAN vendor is also a supplier that wants to win additional business in the large China market.

Earlier this month, Global Times reported Ericsson was invited to “interview” for access to China’s market as what it categorized “could be the last chance for Sweden to pull back” its decision to exclude Huawei and others from the country’s 5G networks.

RELATED: Ericsson CEO lobbied Swedish minister over Huawei ban – report

Ericsson’s CEO Börje Ekholm has even campaigned for competition and against how Huawei was barred.

Telenor is targeting nearly 100% population coverage with 5G by the end of 2023, expanding its network by around 60%, including thousands of new base stations.

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