Tele2 gets ready for LTE in Baltic states
Swedish operator engages NSN for network modernization scheme across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Published: 27 April, 2012
The Nordic operators continue to uphold their regional tradition of being in the mobile vanguard, with Sweden's Tele2 expanding LTE to its Baltic territories in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The company has contracted Nokia Siemens to supply the network modernization project, which will expand and enhance existing 2G and 3G infrastructure for greater capacity and power efficiency, as well as making the systems LTE-ready. The vendor will also provide the 4G core and RAN equipment and the entire roll-out will be based on its Liquid platform, which supports flexible networks and unified packet cores for different air interfaces.
The deal includes NSN's Flexi Multiradio base stations, radio network controllers (RNCs) and base station controllers, as well as voice core network elements including its Liquid Core Mobile Switching Center Server and open Media Gateway. In addition, NSN will supply its Evolved Packet Core platform, including Flexi NS (network server), Flexi NG (network gateway) and SGSN.
This kind of contract is increasingly common in Europe and other regions, where operators are upgrading existing networks, and preparing for LTE, in parallel, turning on 4G capabilities as required at the same time as improving the performance and efficiency of wider area 2G/3G. This contrasts with 'big bang' LTE roll-outs, with rapid switch-off of legacy services, more commonly seen in the CDMA community. The modernization approach is driving sales of flexible equipment like NSN's Flexi, Huawei's SingleRAN and others, but these deals come with lower margins than all-out replacements, as Ericsson detailed in its recent results call.
The replacement of Tele2's legacy 2G/3G radio and core networks across the Baltics is expected to take two years, while the cost of the project was undisclosed. Estoni looks set to move first, with 4G-enabled cell sites to be live in capital Tallinn plus Harju County as early as May, while the mobile broadband infrastructure will also be expanded to sites that only currently support GSM/EDGE. In this country, as part of its high speed data plans, Tele2 recently acquired Eesti Energia's fiber optic network for €25m ($33m), boosting backhaul capabilities.
In Lithuania, it plans to replace all its 870 GSM base stations and upgrade its 428 W-CDMA/HSPA base stations with the new flexible kit, also implementing an all-IP backhaul system and a unified 2G/3G/4G core, starting immediately.