2degrees selects Ericsson for 5G network launch in 2021

14 Apr 2021

New Zealand mobile network operator (MNO) 2degrees has selected Swedish vendor Ericsson as primary technology partner for its 5G network launch later year. The cellco announced in a press release that the national 5G network build will start immediately, with services activated in Auckland and Wellington in 2021 and progressively extended to about 700 of its 1,800 cell sites across the country. 2degrees noted that combining Ericsson’s radio access network (RAN) and core network would enable it to dynamically switch capacity between 3G, 4G and 5G and double its 4G capacity for an even better customer experience.

2degrees Chief Executive Mark Aue described the partnership as another major step forward for the company: ‘Our launch will be well-timed and what we’re building today will be far more advanced than what any telco could deliver a year ago. In the past 18 months there have been significant advances in the 5G ecosystem and our 5G build is poised to capitalise on that – ultimately 2degrees customers will benefit from mature and proven technology … We started replacing the core of our network in 2020 and now we can accelerate the build out of 5G with our planned upgrade of existing sites.’

Ericsson will replace incumbent Huawei, which was effectively sidelined from all 5G upgrade business in New Zealand after the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) barred the Chinese company on security grounds. 2degrees warned in 2018 that it could incur extra costs if it had to switch vendors for 5G, as it would need to duplicate or replace some of its core network and might not be able to install new 5G hardware separately alongside its existing Huawei 3G and 4G radios on all of its towers. Aue noted, however, that some of its Huawei equipment was now eleven years old and ‘probably due for replacement anyway’. It will continue to use the Chinese vendor’s equipment on the cell sites it has no current plans to upgrade.