The fifth generation of cellular network technology is here, and it’s much more than just a new technological stack for mobile networks.
This is according to Sandro Tavares, Nokia’s Global Head of Mobile Networks Marketing, who said that when looking at the benefits and opportunities of the technology in global markets, 5G is an asset for nations to develop the competitiveness of their economies in general.
“It actually reflects on how critical the whole discussion around 5G is for all nations, starting from the most developed countries in the world, but also for developing countries,” Tavares said.
For these countries, it can mean a step forward in improving their productivity and having a better position in the world – especially when it goes beyond consumer services on 5G to enabling the industrial automation cases and public safety cases, which will be fundamental for developing countries.
4G still important
The first 5G networks which are being developed and deployed still rely heavily on 4G. This is because the connection is anchored on 4G – meaning that a strong and well-performing LTE network creates the fundamental basis for a strong and well-performing 5G network.
“Even as we move forward with the deployment of 5G, 4G is still important for some of the use cases so operators can balance their assets and make sure that they are utilised in the right technology for the right use cases,” Tavares said.
Further to this, a lot of the equipment that is being deployed for 4G actually evolves naturally to 5G – allowing for experimentation in how networks allocate frequencies between the two technologies’ use features – such as dynamic spectrum sharing.
Mobile connections already on Nokia 5G networks
Although the 5G market is in its infancy, South Korea – the first country to launch 5G, beating the US by only three hours – currently has about 10% of subscribers on 5G, and Nokia is a supplier to all three operators (KT, SKT, and LGU+).
This means that even in an advanced country like South Korea there are just over 3 million subscribers on 5G, which are generating 2,000TB of traffic.
“To this end, we’re going to see quite a lot of growth in terms of subscriber penetration of 5G throughout the rest of this year and into 2020 and 2021,” Tavares said.
By 2025, Nokia believes that the vast majority of connections globally will be on 5G.
“Things are also running much faster than we thought, so it could be even faster, said Tavares.
This includes developing nations. A recent GSMA report states that 5G will account for 3% of 1 billion connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
Nokia’s 5G solutions vs other solutions
According to Tavares, there are several reasons why Nokia’s 5G solution is worth considering over the solutions of other big 5G players.
One of these is that Nokia is the only global end-to-end 5G player, covering radio, core and transport. These services are underpinned by automation and powered by AI and Analytics.
“We have competitors that have part of the 5G solutions that play all over the world, and we have competitors that have a full set of solutions that are not playing everywhere. We are the only player that are positioned globally to actually help our customers through this comprehensive transition,” Tavares said.
“We need to work not only on the radio access network, but there’s a complete overhaul at the core, and there is transport that needs to be developed – and this is one of our strongest traits.”
“As 5G is in its initial phases with no standalone technology, it heavily relies on LTE performance as well as the enabler for 5G performance – and we are known for providing the best performing LTE networks in the world, according to independent studies,” added Tavares.
“Furthermore, when you’re looking beyond radio access for 5G, there is a very strong dependence on cloud technologies on the core side of the network to be able to cope with the traffic demand that comes with 5G, and in this case we’ve also been meeting with Cloud Native Core technologies which also plays a very important role in our position in the market.”
Nokia also just reached 50 commercial deals, and according to Tavares, there are many more to come.
“Out of these 50 contracts, 16 networks are already live, with real consumers using the network and stretching it to its fullest. And we’ve got good performance so far, so we’re really excited about what they’re doing in the market,” said Tavares.
“We are actively discussing collaboration and deploying these networks for a lot of customers,” he said.
Carien Pretorius is a guest in Helsinki, Finland, made possible by the Finnish Embassy in Pretoria.