Thursday, 29 October 2020

Nokia's 5G Small Cells in Limelight

We looked at Nokia's Airscale Indoor Radio Small Cells only recently. In addition their small cells keep popping up in the news on a regular basis; see related posts below. There has been quite a few announcements by Nokia on 5G small cells recently, so here is a summary: 


Nokia announced that its market-leading Smart Node portfolio of All-in-One base stations for 5G indoor use will be powered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s unique chipsets. The press release says:

The product, which leverages the industry-leading Qualcomm 5G RAN platform for small cells, is designed to deliver ubiquitous indoor 5G coverage for residential and enterprise networks. The new 5G Smart Node complements Nokia’s portfolio of 5G Small Cells such as the AirScale Micro Remote Radio Head and AirScale Indoor Radio, which are commercially deployed by many operator networks globally to boost 5G capacity and coverage. It is expected to be available from Q1 2021.

Nokia is working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring its 5G RAN technology into Nokia’s Smart Node portfolio, delivering 5G in a compact, cost-effective plug-and-play package for smaller indoor network use-cases. Nokia’s use of Qualcomm Technologies’ innovations will enable 5G deployment at a significantly lower price point and smaller form factor, lowering the barriers to entry into the 5G-powered world. The working relationship underscores Nokia’s commitment to selecting best-in-class partners for the delivery of unmatched solutions within the industry’s only end-to-end 5G portfolio.

Nokia 5G Smart Node, based on the Qualcomm 5G RAN platform, is a low-power, flexible mount product that enables operators to address 5G network densification and indoor coverage requirements. Easy and quick to install, 5G Smart Nodes are a cost-effective way to extend the availability of 5G across multiple locations and provide a compelling option for in-home, small office and enterprise coverage.

With 80 percent of mobile sessions initiated indoors, home and small businesses remain a hub of mobile device use, making high-quality indoor 5G coverage a necessity. Many 5G frequency bands, especially those with wider bandwidths, cannot penetrate buildings due to propagation losses; this makes 5G Smart Nodes a great option for home and small office coverage. Where total cost of ownership (TCO) is a key factor, 5G Smart Nodes deliver reliable voice, data and services over 5G with minimal overheads and do not require any specialist in-house expertise for installation.

The modular design of the Smart Node solution offers ultimate flexibility and is easy to upgrade from 4G to 5G, touch-safe, and deployable on tabletops, ceilings or walls. Now with the inclusion of the Qualcomm FSM100xx software-defined small cell modem, software upgrades allow for simplified advancement to future mobile network standards and releases. Features such as Narrowband IoT support for low-power, wide-area coverage, emergency helpline services, local break out and telecom grade security help operators address indoor network needs without the complexity and cost of a macro deployment.

Nokia’s portfolio of residential and small-medium enterprise small cells caters to the full range of consumer and enterprise requirements. Working together with Qualcomm Technologies brings 5G to more locations and environments than ever before. The unmatched price point of the 5G Smart Node offering has been achieved through unique optimizations to the all-in-one architecture, pushing the boundaries of the intended use-cases.

Our understanding is that Nokia (and former Alcatel-Lucent, which is part of Nokia now) already uses Qualcomm chipset for it's small cells and femtocells.

In other news, Nokia announced that they have won 5G small cells deal in Taiwan with Chunghwa Telecom (CHT). The press release says:

Nokia today announced that it will provide Taiwanese mobile operator, Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) with a range of products from its innovative small cells portfolio to support CHT’s initiative to deliver comprehensive 5G coverage. CHT is the first operator in Taiwan to deploy a 5G non-standalone (NSA) small cells solution enabling instant 5G coverage in specific areas such as business as well as tourist districts. Nokia has already commenced deployment and has installed 140 5G small cells to date.

Nokia has been a long-term partner of CHT, since the 2G era. The deal will see Nokia supply CHT with its flexible AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR) solution for better indoor coverage and capacity, as well as its AirScale micro RRH for outdoor and urban hot spots. These will be deployed to complement the existing base of over 2,500 sets of 4G small cells. Nokia’s 5G small cells portfolio is quick to install and enables operators to address 5G network densification and indoor coverage requirements. With enterprise being a key 5G market CHT is working closely with local small to medium-size enterprises to provide secure 5G coverage to enable industry 4.0 automation. Approximately 80 percent of mobile sessions are initiated indoors from homes and businesses and high-quality indoor 5G coverage is pivotal to ensuring a good end-user experience.

Nokia has been working with CHT for a long time and have numerous press release and announcements with them. The following video from 2016 shows Small cells & Mobile Edge Computing being deployed in a stadium to cover all the bases for Taiwan baseball fans.

As this Light Reading article points out:

The small-cell contract award comes hard on the heels of 5G wins with Taiwan Mobile and Asia-Pacific Telecom (APT), as well as a 5G RAN contract from CHT earlier in the year.

CHT is also buying RAN equipment from Ericsson, and using the Swedish supplier as its sole provider of 5G core equipment (Ericsson is mopping up a fair bit of 5G business in Taiwan, too). But the operator opted for Nokia when it came to a 5G non-standalone (NSA) small cells solution: the AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR), for better indoor coverage and capacity, and the AirScale micro RRH, for outdoor and urban hot spots. Coverage is aimed at specific areas, such as business and tourist districts.

More details of Nokia's Small cells and Smart Node femtocells here. Femtocell products here.

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