Ericsson wins $8.3B 5G deal with Verizon — its largest contract ever

Ericsson today says it won a new $8.3 billion 5G deal with Verizon that mainly focuses on radio access network (RAN) equipment. In today’s second quarter 2021 earnings call Ericsson’s CEO Börje Ekholm said the five-year deal with Verizon is the largest contract in the history of Ericsson.

The scope of the agreement includes Ericsson’s latest 5G RAN technology for C-band, low-band and mmWave spectrum.

Ericsson is a long-standing vendor of Verizon. The carrier is also working with Samsung. But Verizon, notably, did not award a 5G contract to Nokia.

In April Verizon said its top priority for 2021 is to prepare its network for its C-band spectrum, and it has begun installing C-band equipment from Ericsson and Samsung in its Ultra Wideband network — this is the company’s 5G network built mostly on mmWave spectrum in urban metros to date. But Verizon will boost Ultra Wideband with its new C-band spectrum as quickly as it can.

RELATED: Verizon deploys C-band gear from Ericsson, Samsung for its 5G network

Under this new $8.3 billion agreement, Verizon will deploy Ericsson's 5G solutions in its Ultra Wideband 5G network. Those solutions include Ericsson's Radio system portfolio, Massive MIMO, Ericsson Spectrum Sharing and Ericsson Cloud RAN.

In 2020, Verizon was the first communications service provider to receive a commercial 5G mmWave Street Macro base station from Ericsson's new factory in Lewisville, Texas. And that technology is also part of the new contract.

Status of Verizon’s 5G SA core network

Ericsson said its solutions support both Verizon’s 5G standalone (SA) and non-standalone strategies. Both Ericsson and Verizon declined to comment on the status of Verizon’s SA core network.

A year ago, Verizon sounded as if it was about ready to shift to a 5G SA core. But then it began hedging on its timeline for that shift. AT&T also kept pushing out its timeline for its 5G SA core.

In a big announcement timed to coincide with Mobile World Congress 2021, AT&T recently said it was putting its 5G SA core on Microsoft Azure’s cloud. 

RELATED: AT&T: Cloud deal with Microsoft validates virtualization

Dish Network has also said that it will run its core and RAN functions on a public cloud — AWS in its case.

We’ll have to wait and see if Verizon has any secret public cloud plans for its 5G SA core.