Dutch network KPN has selected Ericsson to provide the infrastructure for its 5G core network. This decision, although inevitable, represents another setback for Huawei, its 4G provider, which had until now enjoyed a long and intimate relationship with the carrier.
Under the terms of the five-year deal, Ericsson has agreed to provide Netherlands' dominant telco with its dual-mode 5G core software, which will form the backbone of KPN’s 5G Standalone (SA) product, accompanied by integration and support services. The Swedish infrastructure provider said implementation is expected to commence later this year.
KPN - which has a market share of about 34 per cent of the country - had previously enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Huawei.
Last November, it picked Huawei to replace existing Ericsson RAN equipment across the country. That decision was regarded as a vote of confidence in Huawei, particularly given the pressure against the company from Washington, which subsequently manifested itself as (either partial or total) bans in the UK and mainland Europe.
In 2014, Huawei won the contract to provide elements of KPN's 2G, 3G, and 4G core networks, with the Chinese business also selected to replace legacy CRM and billing systems with its homegrown software. This deal was subsequently highlighted by Huawei in a case study.
Although Huawei's 5G equipment is not banned in mainland Europe, restrictions against the company exist on a nation-by-nation basis, with varying levels of severity. The European Commission has published guidance limiting kit from so-called "high-risk vendors", while simultaneously urging carriers to diversify their supply chains.
Commenting on the news, telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore described the decision as a "key win for Ericsson" and catastrophic for Huawei.
"This decision reinforces Ericsson's credentials in the core part of the network," he said. "Both Ericsson and Nokia have been major beneficiaries from Huawei bans. This is clearly another blow to Huawei and feels like yet another nail in the coffin for the Chinese vendor." ®