Finnish kit maker Nokia is ramping up its private networking strategy in the US with some updates to its product line-up.

Nick Wood

September 9, 2022

3 Min Read
Nokia adds bells and whistles to its private networking and edge portfolios

Finnish kit maker Nokia is ramping up its private networking strategy in the US with some updates to its product line-up.

Its new 5G Industrial fieldrouter and dongle are pitched at enterprises, educational establishments, cities and other entities that want to deploy a private network but perhaps don’t boast the IT budget of a major multinational. The big clue to this is the fact that the new equipment can make use of Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, which can be used by entities other than telecoms operators for the purpose of operating private cellular networks. It means that customers won’t have to factor the ongoing cost of licensed mobile spectrum into their private network deployment.

In particular for schools in lower-income areas, this could be a bit of game-changer. A report last year by McKinsey found that due to Covid-related lockdowns, elementary students ended the 2020-21 school year up to five months behind in terms of academic attainment.

“Covid lockdowns highlighted the fact that millions of US students had limited or no Internet access,” said Nokia. “Since then, billions of dollars have been invested with some leveraging CBRS spectrum to connect communities over private wireless using 4G/LTE hotspots.”

Indeed, rolling out a CBRS-powered private mobile network could enable more students to learn remotely if they suddenly find themselves unable to travel to school.

“The release of CBRS spectrum by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for enterprise and public entity use has led to the acceleration in private wireless deployments,” said Todd Nate, Nokia head of private wireless in North America, in a statement on Thursday. “Nokia is now working with over 90 private wireless customers in the country, of which over 70 are using CBRS shared spectrum. These are instrumental in connecting underserved communities and digitally transforming enterprises, and by readying our equipment we can help them evolve to 5G at their own pace.”

Accompanying Nokia’s new Industrial hardware is the Connectivity Operations Dashboard, giving customers the ability to track the usage of every device on the network. The dashboard also supports zero-touch onboarding and management of Nokia’s Industrial range of smartphones, tablets and IoT devices, and can be scaled to manage thousands of devices.

Meanwhile, Nokia has also added some new features to its on-premise Mission Critical Industrial Edge (MXIE) compute solution.

The big new feature here is compatibility with non-cloud native workloads, enabling them to be hosted on the same platform as containerised applications. With this upgrade, MXIE can host a wide variety of applications from different ecosystems, including legacy applications frequently found in brownfield industrial campuses. Support has also been added for operational technology (OT) security. With this refresh, Nokia’s aim is to accelerate the adoption of Industry 4.0.

“On-premise edge is key to developing and deploying advanced industrial applications,” said Karim Yaici, senior analyst for Analysys Mason, in a statement. “Solutions such as Nokia MXIE will help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation by facilitating access to OT and to foster innovation by providing access to a growing ecosystem of developers and partners.”

Platforms and networks are all well and good, but as ABI Research noted recently, the manufacturing and industrial sector appears to be crying out for devices more than anything. The analyst firm said back in August that the number of private cellular connections in the manufacturing and industrial vertical is expected to reach 49 million by the end of the decade, but progress is being stymied by a lack of devices. Maybe it’s a case of ‘build it and they will come’?

Elsewhere, Nokia has teamed up with Telia Finland to launch what it claims is the world’s first commercial 5G SA network with network slicing for Fixed Wireless Access. This technology promises to allow dynamic prioritising or deprioritising of the 5G network with regard to FWA as demand requires. This would presumably be especially handy during peak video streaming times.


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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