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KDDI and SoftBank add Nokia to shared 5G RAN ticket

Nokia has secured itself a piece of the action in the shared 5G radio network being rolled out by Japan’s KDDI and SoftBank.

The telcos announced plans to deploy a shared network, or a Multi-Operator Radio Access Network (MORAN), in June, using equipment from Ericsson and other vendors. We now know that Nokia is one of those other vendors.

Like Ericsson, Nokia said it will install a MORAN, which allows the operators to share the RAN while keeping their core networks separate. Base stations and infrastructure equipment are shared, but the RAN uses dedicated radio frequencies assigned to each telco, giving them independent control of their resources.

Nokia notes that its MORAN is triple mode and covers LTE and 5G, as well as Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).

Specifics from the Finnish vendor tell us it will supply products from its AirScale portfolio, including baseband and radio platforms, the capacity of the former to be boosted by its ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC)-based plug-in cards. It says its modular AirScale baseband will enable SoftBank and KDDI to scale capacity flexibly and efficiently and as their 5G businesses evolve.

“We are pleased to work closely with both Nokia and SoftBank to accelerate 5G network deployment across Japan. With this Multi-Operator Radio Access Network, we anticipate delivering the superior unique experiences of 5G to customers faster,” said Tatsuo Sato, VP and Managing Officer, Technology Planning, KDDI.

There was a similar canned statement from Tomohiro Sekiwa, SVP and CNO at SoftBank. “In order to deliver the best 5G experience to customers nationwide as quickly as possible, SoftBank is working with KDDI to develop a shared 5G network,” he said. “In this effort, a Multi-Operator Radio Access Network is a key technology that will bring various efficiencies and we look forward to the high performance of Nokia’s products in this regard.”

The telcos are keen to roll out 5G as quickly and as cheaply as possible – and who isn’t? – hence the MORAN. Costs go down and coverage comes quicker. They are also working together on a shared rural coverage project announced 18 months ago, that will see them share base station assets to build out 5G more quickly in rural areas.

We talk a lot about operator partnerships in this industry, and how telcos could benefit from working together, but relatively few seem to actually take the plunge. It will be interesting to see the impact that this deal has on SoftBank and KDDI’s respective 5G businesses in the coming years.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Francisco Padinha 14/10/2021 @ 5:43 pm

    There is no alternative. . .

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