Nokia has announced that it has been selected by Cellfie Mobile, which was known as VEON (Beeline) until April 2023, for an expansion deal to modernise the Georgian mobile operator’s nationwide 4G network and prepare it for 5G services. Under the deal, which covers the whole country, Nokia will modernise and upgrade existing sites with LTE, as well as add new 5G-ready sites, including 3.5GHz sites. The Finnish vendor’s 5G-ready AirScale portfolio will enable Cellfie to launch 5G services following the successful outcome of a multiband spectrum auction scheduled for this month. Nokia is the sole RAN supplier in the deal and deployment is expected to begin from November.

The development follows an announcement from Georgia’s Communications Commission that Cellfie Mobile will be the only participant in the 5G spectrum auction, after larger competitors MagtiCom and SilkNet opted not to participate in the process. According to the regulator, the duo objected to the terms and conditions of the licences, which state that successful bidders will be required to allow network access to MVNOs on fair and non-discriminatory terms. In response, MagtiCom and SilkNet have accused the Communications Commission of ‘deliberately spreading misinformation’ and ‘misleading the public’, adding that the regulator did not take their comments and suggestions on the planned auction into consideration. Furthermore, the pair have reiterated that they welcome the introduction of MVNOs, but on a commercially negotiated basis, taking into account mutual interests, rather than being forced and coerced into doing so.

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