BT has selected Sweden’s Ericsson as its 5G RAN provider in the four UK capitals – London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast – as well as a number of other ‘major cities’. In a press release regarding the development, Ericsson said the deal marked ‘a significant strengthening in the BT-Ericsson strategic partnership, and builds on BT’s selection of the company to provide its next-generation cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core earlier this year, making Ericsson the end-to-end 5G partner for BT’.
Once the deployment is completed, Ericsson will reportedly manage around 50% of BT’s 5G traffic, it said. The vendor’s 5G RAN deployment and 2G/4G network modernisation will utilise products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio, including Ericsson Spectrum Sharing, which will enable BT to dynamically share 4G and 5G traffic to enable ‘smooth, fast, and cost-effective’ migration to 5G. Ericsson’s cloud native dual-mode 5G Core network selection by BT will also see products and services from Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core (Evolved Packet Core and 5G Core) being deployed.
In related news, meanwhile, BT has published its financial results for the six months ended 30 September 2020, reporting an 8% year-on-year decline in revenue, to GBP10.59 billion (USD13.8 billion). According to the company, the fall was ‘primarily due to the impact of COVID-19, including reduced BT Sport revenue and a reduction in business activity in our enterprise units, and declines in legacy products’. Adjusted EBITDA totalled GBP3.72 billion in the six-month period under review, down by 5% against the first half of its previous fiscal year, with reported profit before tax standing at GBP1.06 billion, a 20% y-o-y decline which BT said was ‘driven primarily by reduced EBITDA’. Capital expenditure in fiscal H1 2021 amounted to GBP1.97 billion, a 5% annualised increase.
With regards to operational highlights, BT said its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout reached ‘record levels’ in H1 2021, with a reported run-rate of 40,000 premises per week, and some 3.50 million premises passed by end-September 2020 (up from 1.81 million a year earlier). On the back of confirming the expanded FTTP footprint, meanwhile, BT confirmed that its network arm Openreach plans to stop selling copper products to around 1.80 million FTTP-enabled premises in 169 exchange areas by September 2021 at the latest. In the mobile sector, meanwhile, BT confirmed that its 5G infrastructure was now live in a total of 112 towns and cities, while claiming its ‘5G-ready customer base’ totalled more than one million at the end of the reporting period.