Two weeks after Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Alcatel-Lucent celebrated the official combination of their operations, Nokia is already leveraging the expertise Alcatel-Lucent brings in the area of cable and Wi-Fi.
That expertise can also surface in wireless "Wi-Fi first" iniatives as well. One can expect the combined know-how of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia will lead to more R&D and improvements in Wi-Fi calling and handoffs.
"Our goal is to put technology out there for service providers, whether they happen to be cable operators or others who may be implementing a Wi-Fi first kind of approach," Jay Fausch, senior director of cable/MSO at Nokia who previously was with Alcatel-Lucent, told FierceWirelessTech.
The cable industry just so happens to be a pioneer in the Wi-Fi first arena, and Alcatel-Lucent – while not in the access point (AP) business – has been selling network gear that allows Wi-Fi services to be delivered in a reliable and cost-effective way, he said. With Wi-Fi, first and foremost, there's the basic infrastructure itself. Second, there's the management layer that allows an operator to best support customers at minimal cost.
While cable and wireless have had a somewhat tumultuous relationship – the cable-backed Clearwire didn't exactly come to fruition the way many had envisioned – Comcast last year confirmed that it had activated the MVNO option it has with Verizon (NYSE: VZ). That option stems from Comcast's participation in a consortium of cable companies that sold spectrum to Verizon in 2012. Comcast is expected to begin testing MVNO services in the second quarter.
Whether cable operators are trying to do a full mobile play with some kind of formal relationship with cellular operators or they want ownership of cellular assets, Fausch said he thinks things like the mobile Evolved Packet Core become an important part of the equation.
"The ability to, I think, integrate within a true sort of Wi-Fi first and voice over Wi-Fi kind of environment is one of the areas in which Nokia is going to excel" versus many of the other players, he said, because it has so much technology expertise and history in developing the kinds of solutions that are needed to handle IP-based voice and the building blocks within the broader IMS architecture to bring those together.
"I think the really key building blocks going forward are going to involve much deeper network intelligence and much deeper voice networking and management of subscriber IP addresses …. that can be done in a packet core, and I think the experience that Nokia has and that Alcatel-Lucent had in the past in those areas is going to serve us really well," he said.
Through its 2008 acquisition of Motive, Alcatel-Lucent acquired expertise whereby it can offer service providers the ability to analyze residential gateways, identify interference and mitigate the number of service calls coming in by pro-actively identifying problems and fixing them before customers experience them. That can go a long way toward decreasing those incoming calls about Wi-Fi to customer service that operators have been getting.
With Bell Labs and other R&D teams, the newly combined company has around 40,000 R&D professionals working on the issues and invests billions of dollars annually into R&D. "There's a significant amount of innovation potential when you've got those kinds of resources at your disposal," Fausch said.
The dawn of the new Nokia
Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent to commence merged operations starting Jan. 14
Madden: Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent combine, but more work is ahead
Nokia sees small cell momentum in North America, China