Ericsson might have split with Sony- and stopped making smartphones in the process, but they’re still very much working in the mobile field. They’ve been providing 3G services for O2 since 2010 and they’ve now announced that O2 have selected them to provide 4G services to their network as well.
Ericsson is to provide an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) for 100% of O2’s network. An EPC is the main network element of the LTE system- in other words it’s necessary to roll out a 4G network. Deployment has already commenced, which supports O2’s plans to have a 4G network which provides coverage to 98% of the UK population by 2015.
In addition to being O2’s sole EPC supplier in the UK, Ericsson is to transform 50% of O2’s existing nationwide network with new multi-standard radio base stations. This will allow O2 to build a multi-standard network that supports 2G, 3G and 4G. Ericsson claim that the RBS 6000 base stations they’ll be using are state-of-the-art and support cost-effective, high-speed mobile broadband services with as little environmental impact as possible.
Overall this agreement makes Ericsson the primary infrastructure supplier for O2 in the UK.
Andrew Conway, Head of Mobile Access at O2 has commented on the partnership, stating that “This network transformation will put us in a great position for a seamless launch of 4G services this year. The outcome of the recent spectrum auction allows us to ensure the widest and deepest possible reach for new services and will see O2's 4G network provide indoor coverage to 98% of the UK population.”
Anders Runevad, President of Region Western and Central Europe at Ericsson meanwhile has stated that "We've been a 3G provider for O2 since 2010 and we're pleased that they've now also selected us to provide the latest technology for 2G services, as well as 4G capability."
Ericsson is clearly doing well as a result of the drive towards faster mobile broadband services across the world. The company have so far signed 130 contracts to provide Evolved Packet Cores in 51 countries on six continents.
O2’s decision to partner with Ericsson will likely trouble Huawei, who as well as manufacturing smartphones are also a rival of Ericsson in the production of telecoms equipment and who in recent years have been pushing to expand their presence in Europe.
As a reminder O2 secured 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum for £550 million, with an obligation to cover at least 98% of the overall UK population- and at least 95% of each individual UK nation by the end of 2017.
Although O2’s 4G network isn’t live yet you can already purchase a range of 4G ready phones from the network, such as the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Blackberry Z10, ensuring that if you’re due an upgrade before 4G rolls out this summer you can make sure you nab yourself a compatible handset.