Vodafone picks Ericsson, NSN for Project Spring deals

BARCELONA, Spain--Ericsson and Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) are proving to be beneficiaries of Vodafone's Verizon Wireless windfall, as the Swedish and Finnish vendors have just won five-year deals under the operator's £7 billion (€8.5 billion) Project Spring network investment programme.

The deals were announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show. Ericsson's five-year deal includes upgrading and expanding Vodafone's 2G and 3G networks and the build-out of its LTE network, along with professional services including integration, tuning, optimisation, and support services.

Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, said. "We have been a trusted partner of Vodafone for 30 years and we are delighted to continue and expand our relationship with this latest award under Project Spring."

NSN said its five-year deal is to modernise and expand the existing radio network.

It was not revealed how much of the £7 billion Project Spring budget would be allocated to the deals with the two vendors. A spokesman for Vodafone told FierceWireless:Europe that it is not splitting out contract sizes. Vodafone unveiled the programme after agreeing the sale of its 45 per cent stake in US operator Verizon Wireless for $130 billion (€94.7 billion).

Vodafone also announced at MWC that it was conducting live tests of LTE Broadcast services based on evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS) technology in collaboration with Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung. The trial took place at the stadium of German football club Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday February 22, when the club played 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

The operator and Ericsson said the trial is the first live test for LTE Broadcast in Europe. "This first test in Europe is an important milestone for the European mobile telecommunications sector," said Thomas Norén, head of product area radio at Ericsson. "LTE Broadcast will soon be delivering unlimited TV or video content to people in device-dense places such as stadiums, public viewing areas or shopping centres. I enjoy watching a good match at the stadium and it's going to be an even more exciting experience when I can watch the replay of the scene that lead to a penalty or goal or check up on the progress of the toughest competing teams in the league while my team's playing."

Other European operators such as Orange and EE have previously told FierceWireless:Europe that they are interested in LTE Broadcast, with Orange carrying out small-scale trials and EE planning to launch a trial this year.

On a global scale, South Korean operator KT launched the first commercial LTE Broadcast service in January while Verizon and Telstra have revealed they are trialling the technology and are expected to launch commercial services this year.

Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, also said at MWC that he expects to see up to eight operator trials of LTE Broadcast across EMEA, Asia and North America in 2014.

For more:
- see this Ericsson press release
- see this other Ericsson press release
- see this NSN release

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