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Nokia flexes its 5G and wifi muscles at MWC 2018

Nokia MWC 2018 press event

At its traditional MWC press event Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri served up a broad snapshot of his company’s activities designed to throw down the gauntlet to its competitors.

As you would expect Suri thinks Nokia is the best positioned networking vendor as we embark on the 5G era. There are lots of reasons for this but the bottom line is Nokia’s end-to-end network capabilities thanks to the Alcatel-Lucent acquisition. Suri flagged up a few recent announcements, especially the Reefshark chipset, as further endorsements of its 5G credentials.

One telling comment was Suri’s warning to the assembled media and analysts that we should be suspicious of claims made at the show about networking gear that is easily software upgradable to support 5G, because without the right hardware and throughput those upgrades won’t really achieve anything. This appeared to be a pre-emptive dig at Ericsson especially, which is pretty keep on the 5G software upgrade narrative.

According to Suri the US and China are currently leading the race to deploy 5G in a significant way, but warned the US needs to be more aggressive on spectrum and make 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3-5 GHz band available to every operator. Japan and South Korea won’t be too far behind but he lamented that Europe seems to be lagging somewhat.

Suri’s presentation coincided with a bunch of Nokia press releases, including a 5G field trial with Vodafone later this year, an MOU signed with China Telecom to look into opportunities for other vertical industries with 5G and a 60 GHz ‘wireless PON’ initiative with Facebook. He also teased a couple of other announcements that will be made later this week, including another Vodafone one that will be literally out of this world.

A good chunk of the presentation then focused on wifi, because Nokia has just announced the acquisition of a company called Unium, which has some clever software in the area of wifi mesh networks. On top of that is has launched a bunch of domestic wifi routers to help address the major pain point for operators that is wifi technical support. You can see a video covering the wifi stuff below.

The presentation finished off with five predictions:

  1. Social issues related to technology will start to heat up thanks to automation, social media, smartphones.
  2. New form factors will start to emerge that will question the dominance of the smartphone such as wearables and that sort of thing.
  3. VR will start to creep back and will quietly re-emerge this year.
  4. More and more traffic in the backbone of the internet will be on the networks of webscale companies such Google and Tencent. Datacenter to datacenter traffic is growing much faster than mobile data.
  5. Healthcare will start to finally see some massive, systemic disruption due to improvements in data, coordination, efficiencies, etc.

There was nothing especially earth-shattering in Nokia’s MWC presentation, but it did a good job of painting a picture of a company that is well positioned to exploit the many opportunities we’re constantly told 5G will bring. Ericsson is doing its big MWC talk tomorrow morning and will probably try to do the same and both of them have a massive interest in 5G getting going as soon as possible.

 

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