Israeli cellco Partner Communications is planning to replace 80% of its 3G antennas, Globes Online is reporting. The decision to upgrade its network infrastructure is understood to have been taken in response to the expected launch of rival operator Pelephone’s 3.5G network in early 2009. The existing network base stations, made by Nortel Networks, are to be replaced by Swedish vendor Ericsson as part of a contract signed in 2007 that originally stipulated the gradual replacement of the antennas would be completed by the end of 2010; Partner has decided to bring this deadline forward in order to have a uniform network as early as possible in 2009 to better compete with Pelephone. Partner is aiming simultaneously to increase the data download speeds that it offers subscribers to 7.2Mbps in urban zones, although it will continue to provide speeds of 3.6Mbps in other areas. On completion of the upgrade all Partner’s network equipment will have been provided by Ericsson, including switches and accesses.