It has been reported that Nokia is on the verge of signing a 5G RAN deal with Portuguese MNO MEO, which is currently al Huawei in its RAN.

Reuters got sight of an internal memo sent by Nokia’s head of mobile, Tommi Uitto, that said “We have now been selected to replace Huawei in some of the key markets in Portugal.” Reuters also claims to have the news corroborated by a couple of anonymous sources who reckon they know a thing or two about the matter. We asked Nokia for comment on the story but had yet to receive anything at time of writing.

Portugal announced it was going to implement the EU’s ‘5G toolbox’, which essentially calls for a phasing out of Chinese vendors from mobile networks, a year ago, so it could be argued this move by MEO is somewhat overdue. On the other hand, this apparently concerns new kit, so there was no need for MEO to make the move until it was ready to get cracking on 5G. While not stated in the story, it’s reasonable to assume Huawei has been excluded entirely from MEO’s 5G RAN but that doesn’t mean Nokia got all of it.

China was understandably upset when the decision was announced, issuing the usual threats of commercial and political vengeance that happen any time it doesn’t get its own way on the global stage. Before long Huawei appealed the decision in a Portuguese court but doesn’t seem to have got very far. Since it has long been clear that legal due process is something politicians are free to suspend at will, it can’t have been very optimistic.

This news, if accurate, vindicates Nokia’s decision to invest in a new Portuguese 5G research centre in late 2022. It was revealed that NOC Portugal had signed a 5G SA core deal with Nokia earlier this year, but the value of this deal is likely to be significantly higher. On that note, Huawei kit will presumably need to be ripped and replaced from any parts of the 4G network that contribute to NSA 5G too.

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