VEON Georgia prepares for 5G with Nokia
VEON has turned to Nokia as its Georgian mobile operator, Beeline, modernises its core network ahead of the country's 5G launch.
Beeline is extending its 4G network with 5G-ready equipment and will also implement Nokia’s Home Location Register (HLR), which stores subscriber data such as phone numbers and user location information.
Mikko Lavanti, VP and head of Central Europe and Central Asia for Nokia, said: “We are very pleased to help VEON with this important step in its digital transformation. Modernising its core network will deliver a stronger, more responsive and more efficient customer experience and positions Beeline Georgia to move quickly to 5G once deployments get underway in the country.”
Beeline said its 4G network currently serves 63% of Beeline Georgia’s customers and reaches 90% of the nation’s population.
Nokia will provide Cloud Packet Core (CPC) and Standalone Core. Nokia’s cloud-native Cloud Mobile Gateway and Cloud Mobility Manager appliance solutions, from the CPC portfolio, will deliver a scalable and flexible control/user plane separation architecture to enable Beeline to rapidly launch 5G services without making significant changes to the network. Deployment is expected to start in the third quarter of 2021.
Lasha Tabidze, Beeline CEO, said: “This is a milestone accomplishment for Beeline, which will bring our subscribers a reliable, steady network, seamless customer experience and services. The solutions from Nokia will provide Beeline with the necessary adaptability, preparedness and potency to meet the demand for enhanced mobile broadband, the Internet of Things and advanced 4G services while enabling 5G capabilities of the future. We are very pleased to have chosen the best-in-class Nokia corporation as our partner.”
Beeline competes in the local mobile market alongside Magticom, owned by International Telcell Cellular LLC and Telcell Wireless LLC, and Silknet's Geocell.
In January, Georgia joined the Trump-initiated Clean Networks programme, aimed at "safeguarding the nation’s assets including citizens’ privacy and companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors".
However, Georgia has since come under criticism from the EU's Venice Commission, after the national regulator – the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) – amended the country's Electronic Communications Law and initiated what has been described as a "hostile takeover" of the ISP Caucasus Online following its acquisition by NEQSOL Holding.
The takeover saw the appointment of a special manager, Mariam Sulaberidze, who has been granted wide ranging powers to enforce the GNCC's decisions.
Sulaberidze is the former director of Open Net, Georgia's state-initiated broadband programme, prior to which she was head of the international relations and project management office of the Communications Commission.
In March, the EU's Venice Commission, said the GNCC's actions were "not in line with European standards". Georgia plans to formally apply for EU membership in 2024.
In late May, GNCC issued another order for Caucasus Online to "return 100% of its shares to the pre-sale status quo". The case is being heard by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).