Deploying 5G is hard – Nokia wants to make it easy

nokia 5G easy
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Nokia wants to make it dead easy for cellcos to roll out 5G networks, and to that end has launched new services to help them prioritize their 5G investments (ideally in Nokia gear exclusively, though it’s not a prerequisite).

The new services – which have been added to Nokia’s existing 5G Acceleration Services portfolio – include ‘Nokia 5G Digital Design’, as well as two services focused on cross-domain architecture and site evolution to smooth the rollout of 5G networks by translating 5G business plans into clear and concise technical requirements across all domains.

All of this, Nokia says, will deliver lower TCO and speed up time-to-market by several months.

Nokia 5G Digital Design is a conceptual network design tool that leverages the vendor’s AVA cognitive services platform and machine learning algorithms to simulate the impact of various 5G use cases on networks. Eventually it will also support “digital twin” technology.

The cross-domain architecture service aims to simplify the complexity of multivendor and legacy networks by providing architecture and design solutions tailored to operator-specific 5G use cases, and ensuring that the networks meet required performance KPIs.

Meanwhile, the site evolution service shows cellcos how to quickly and cost-efficiently evolve their networks to 5G by reusing existing site infrastructure and minimizing the number of site changes and visits. The service leverages automated project management processes, real-time field collaboration and – in the future – augmented reality to assist installation and commissioning procedures.

End-to-end complexity

The selling point for the new service additions is pretty simple: 5G is hard, and the level of difficulty is different for different cellcos.

“Operators see that 5G can open up new opportunities, but making the business case for investment can be very complex,” said John Delaney, associate VP for European Mobility at IDC, in Nokia’s press release. “Help with handling that complexity can contribute significantly to ensuring that 5G networks are developed in the right direction.”

Sanjay Goel, president of Global Services at Nokia, explained that the reason 5G is complex is because there’s far more to it than installing new radios – there’s also technologies like network slicing and the ‘cloudification’ of the network itself.

“5G network evolution is not only about the radio, but the entire cross-domain architecture and how operators can manage it, Goel said in a statement. “It’s about where to invest first – and how to keep the investments and total cost of ownership under control.”

Also, because no one is going to forklift their network to 5G, operators are likely to initially use 5G for different purposes – while most early movers are focused on fixed wireless access for consumers, others plan to target industrial applications. Different strategies require different investment priorities – Nokia wants to help cellcos wade through the complexity of 5G so that they spend their money wisely whilst keeping them focused on an end-to-end approach that Nokia says is required for effective 5G deployment.

“End to end” also happens to be the core tenet of Nokia’s 5G portfolio pitch. Nokia sees its end-to-end 5G lineup (to include its own chipset, ReefShark) as its chief advantage over the competition – ostensibly because an end-to-end integrated 5G solution promises better TCO and faster time to market compared to a best-of-breed approach. It also encourages cellcos to buy lots more Nokia gear (although CEO Rajeev Suri has said when asked that Nokia will support multi-vendor 5G environments as well).

Speaking of end-to-end 5G portfolios, Nokia also announced it is expanding its portfolio by introducing full SDN and virtual private network capabilities for its Wavence microwave transmission system, which Nokia says can enable network slices for user groups in 5G microwave links.

Dual connectivity call in China

In separate but related news, Nokia also announced that it has successfully completed an end-to-end dual-connectivity data call using 5G and LTE links at the same time.

The call – which was conducted as part of an R&D trial with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) – used a 5G NR system on the 3.5GHz frequency band and LTE in the 2.1 GHz frequency band, supported by a 5G user equipment simulator provided by Prisma Telecom Testing.

Nokia says dual connectivity will enable LTE operators to “more rapidly create 5G coverage and services by connecting 5G NR to a 4G radio that is connected to an existing [Nokia] cloud packet core.”

The vendor also said it will continue to work with MIIT through 2018 trialing 5G in the 4.9 GHz frequency bands.

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