Randeep Raina, CTO, Nokia India spells out why network slicing, fiberization, standards and private LTE would be salient aspects to watch when we think of 5G in India. He also explains why or why not would spectrum-pricing and geo-political forces matter. Let’s connect these different towers and see what comes up. Excerpts from an interview with Pratima Harigunani:
What is your strategy and portfolio for 5G roll-outs in India?
Nokia has been rolling out telecom networks in India for over 25 years and fully understand India market need and expectations. With experience of over 165 global 5G networks in combination of our local market understanding along-with our deep engagement with customers and regulators, we have right product mix to fulfill objectives of India 5G networks and deployments. Our strategy is focuses on the purpose of creating technology that helps the world act together and deliver critical networks through technology leadership and trusted partnerships. Nokia combines the best of carrier grade performance with expertise in cloud and security. We support the industry trend of open interfaces, virtualization, and cloud native software.
What makes 5G different and so exciting – in your reckoning?
5G is more than just a radio upgrade. Nokia’s dedicated core software, designed for the cloud, offers agility to bring new 5G services to market. Nokia offers a wide selection of high-performance 5G radio units and 5G massive MIMO Adaptive Antenna solutions, across all 5G bands; from sub-6 GHz to mmWave bands. Our existing installed base of networks in India is also 5G-ready and we are ensuring SW readiness aligned to the India market requirements.
Are there any adjacent areas which would be influential for 5G that you are focusing on?
Energy efficiency is one of the critical requirements of 5G evolution, and Nokia is working closely to ensure we offer most optimized solutions while maximizing the performance. Nokia offers unique network slicing solution which works across 5G and 4G networks. Network slicing is a key feature of 5G and enables operators to deliver unique, isolated ‘slices’ of the network tailored to specific applications, creating new revenue opportunities whilst also cutting costs and complexity. Another aspect is that private wireless is a key enabler to Industry 4.0. 4.9G private wireless networks can support many of today’s use cases; as their digital needs develop, operators can easily upgrade to 5G.
What about fiberization and security?
Nokia also offers industry-leading optics products to meet higher fiberization requirements of 5G network introductions. While also complementing through innovative microwave backhaul products in E-band to mitigate limited reach of fibre infrastructure. Building trust demands end-to-end optimization of their security operations — from devices and access sites to cloud edge and network core. That requires a combination of insight, scalability, and adaptiveness. These are the three sides of what we at Nokia call the “triangle of trust”. Nokia has a comprehensive end-to-end security products portfolio, which includes technologies such as security gateway, nuage virtualized security services, DDoS deepfield defender, as well as the whole NetGuard Adaptive Security Operations suite.
How is your enterprise strategy different from others? What about private LTE and captive 5G pockets here?
According to Nokia’s 5B Business Readiness Report, 5G is set to add USD8 trillion to global GDP by 2030. Globally, over 71% of companies are planning to invest in 5G over the next five years to support their continued digital transformation initiatives. 5G-enabled industries have the potential to help drive sustainable economic growth and define the next decade of innovation. Asset-intensive industries are adopting smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning, to improve agility, productivity and efficiency. Private wireless is a key enabler to Industry 4.0.
What verticals are specifically-hot on your radar?
Nokia has more than 220 private wireless enterprise customers worldwide, of which 30 are 5G. Nokia is active in rail, utilities, mining, aviation, maritime, manufacturing and logistics, public safety and smart cities. We are actively participating in various industry forums where industry present their requirements and we work together to offer solutions.
Our vast experience of working with large enterprises globally has enabled us to optimize our products and solutions to cater for their specific requirements which are very different than standard telecom networks. We are also partnering with webscale cloud providers to explore more innovative solutions which will become relevant for enterprise segment and can help accelerate 5G adoption.
Do you agree that standards and patents can play a big role in 5G adoption?
We have seen how uniform global ecosystem of technology helps faster adoptions by bringing the cost of ownership lower for both end users and service providers. 4G/LTE networks were fully harmonized across the globe which helped us connect millions of Indians at very affordable ARPU levels. Global harmonized standards have proved once again its value in enabling faster technology adoption.
Any specific efforts you can cite here?
Contributing to development of industry standards accelerates innovation and drives interoperability, expanding customer and consumer choice while also generating financial returns for Nokia. Powered by world-renowned research from Nokia Bell Labs, Nokia has been the forerunner in defining the fundamental technologies for the 5G era. Nokia uses its leadership position to ensure that 5G technology remains indispensably valuable to people and organizations that use it every day. We are driving standardization efforts to meet consumer, enterprise and industrial requirements not addressed in previous cellular standards, and we are constantly anticipating future needs by innovating new applications enabled by 5G.
What’s your take on the state of spectrum – bands, availability, pricing etc. from a 5G context?
On spectrum pricing, the regulatory body needs to relook at the Indian spectrum pricing framework and relook at telecom industry as enabler of digital infrastructure builder rather than as a source of revenue, in bigger interest of the nation as we head towards digital globalization and compete in global digital economy.
5G requires steady investment and long-term return as use-cases are still being developed and world markets are in early stage of learning curve. Unlike previously when India auctioned the spectrum for 3G/4G, most of the ecosystem enablers were already in place. India is low ARPU market and majority of revenue generation is from B2C, lower spectrum pricing will help industry to focus in building and investing in developing ecosystem and afford delayed return on investments as ecosystem takes time to mature.
On the spectrum bands, Indian administration has taken the active role in recent months in engaging with industry to frame a 10-year roadmap of spectrum landscape. We appreciate and applaud such initiative from DoT and participated actively. NFAP-2021 revision work is also ongoing which will strength the 5G attractiveness for service providers by potentially opening availability of mmWaves. Nokia believes operators must have viable quantity and priced spectrum access across low, mid and high band for successful 5G deployment.