Nokia finally gets some Chinese 5G action, celebrates with Broadcom collaboration

Much has been made of Nokia’s apparent exclusion from the Chinese 5G market, but a new deal with China Unicom indicates such reports may have been an exaggeration.

When the three giant Chinese MNOs were sharing the 5G love in April, most of it went to domestic kit vendors, but Ericsson did get a small piece of the action. The perfectly reasonable conclusion to take was that was that Nokia is effectively excluded from Chinese 5G networks, possibly by choice when you consider the cost of winning business there. Nonetheless Nokia even went so far as to publicly apologise for the situation.

Now we hear that Nokia is still winning some 5G business in the world’s biggest telecoms market, in the form of helping China Unicom out with its 5G core. Not a lot of it, mind, just ten percent, but that’s better than a kick in the proverbials. Furthermore Nokia gets to name-drop multiple software products, especially on the OSS side, as part of the announcement.

“Nokia is very proud to expand our working relationship with China Unicom beyond 4G,” said Markus Borchert, President of Nokia Greater China and author of the aforementioned apology. “We are looking forward to close collaboration with China Unicom on novel business models and 5G service innovation to enable an open 5G ecosystem.”

Meanwhile Nokia has announced another chip partnership, as it attempts to turn that side of its business around. The company will work with Broadcom to develop custom chips, which will be incorporated into its ReefShark portfolio. Specifically they’re working on fixed function ASICs, as opposed to the more flexible but more expensive FPGAs, which defined Nokia’s previous strategic missteps on the chip side.

“This important collaboration highlights our continued commitment to developing our ‘5G Powered by ReefShark’ chipset portfolio and ensures that our 5G solutions deliver a best-in-class performance to our customers,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “We are delighted to bring Broadcom’s silicon technology leadership and best-in-class ASIC capability to the table, allowing us to deliver a high performance and serve our customers’ needs as the demand for 5G services increases.”

All in all, a solid start to the week for Nokia, but these announcements need to be kept in perspective. Ten percent of the 5G core work at the smallest of the three Chinese MNOs only represents a small win in the great scheme of things, but is certainly of symbolic significance. Meanwhile all these chip partnerships w2ill only mean something if they result in superior products that help Nokia’s bottom line. Let’s see.

  • Private Networks in a 5G World

  • 5G Networking Digital Symposium

  • LIVE: Getting the Best out of 5G

  • 5G Ecosystem Digital Symposium

  • 2020 Vision Executive Summit

  • TechXLR8

  • BIG 5G Event

  • 5G World

  • 5G Latin America


  1. Avatar Patrick Pfavayi 16/06/2020 @ 7:32 am

    Why and how can Chinese companies employ Nokia or Erickson when there is homegrown Huawei ?

    Huawei makes cheaper and better products than these two foreign companies and it is a local company. With the US China trade war raging and the The entity list and Huawei being excluded from foreign contracts , there is every reason to support Huawei in the domestic market. So why even entertain giving any contract to foreign companies that make more expensive products and products that are not as good ?

    I have a feeling that those Chinese companies ,China mobile, China unicom, China Telecom , know that they will be spied on through Huawei equipment. So they are risking (ripraisals from the Chinese government) by taking every opportunity to include foreign equipment at least on the core of their 5G networks. That way they will mitigate surveillance and have some control of their own systems.

    And the Chinese government is letting this happen because they can , by decree , get the companies to provide them with any information they want. Besides it shows a form of “fairness” which can be used by the government to lobby for Huawei inclusion in foreign countries.

    otherwise under the present circumstances I don’t see how and why foreign companies should be included in the Chinese market.


  2. Avatar Micky 16/06/2020 @ 2:03 pm

    Its just a show off to the world that we allow foreign organization to develop our infrastructure,so they should also allow huawei to take part in their country

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.