Nokia plans 5G test network, will share APIs via new partnership unit
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is planning to build a 5G data transfer test network in Oulu, Finland, early next year, according to a Finnish news report. In addition, the company announced a sweeping partnership program that will, among other things, have Nokia's networks unit opening up certain internal application programming interfaces (APIs) to partners, and even competitors.
Yle News cited Juha Maatta, Nokia technical director, who said a commitment in principle is in place for the planned 5G network. While a formal decision regarding the network's actual construction plans will come later this year, Maatta said he expects the rollout will start in early 2015.
5G is still highly conceptual at this point, but researchers worldwide are working toward some common goals for 5G networks, which could be deployed commercially as early at 2020. Among other things, 5G is expected to improve wireless area capacity by 1,000 times, deliver data at 10 to 100 times the current typical user data rate, provide a five times reduction in end-to-end latency and reduce energy consumption by up to 90 percent.
Regarding goals for Nokia's planned 5G test network, Maatta said: "It won't be just one product, but there would be an entire ecosystem around it. We also have to develop the user experience. In this way people will see that they will have limitless capacity at their disposal."
The city of Oulu, University of Oulu and Finnish Technical Research Centre VTT will participate in the 5G project, which locals hope will help Oulu restore its position as a major hub for information and communications technology (ICT). The region has been hurting as Nokia and other high-tech companies lay off employees. Last week, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which acquired Nokia's devices business in April, said it would slash 1,050 jobs in Finland and shutter a research and development plant in Oulu, which has 250,000 residents.
In related Nokia news, the company is touting a new partnership unit within its Nokia Networks division, which is seeking to build relationships with outside parties.
"We're creating a new Partner Business Unit where we take the lead in shaping how companies in the telco world will collaborate in the future. This business will be a focal point for our growing network of partners and will be responsible for a new way of working with them. In short, we are introducing unprecedented openness and opportunity," said Thorsten Robrecht, vice president of portfolio management and acting head of partner business, Nokia Networks, in a blog post.
He described four components of the efforts as "extend," via which Nokia will add partner products and services alongside its portfolio; "embed," in which partner products and components will be embedded in Nokia's portfolio; "plug in," whereby Nokia is opening up some previously internal application programming interfaces (APIs) to partners, and potentially competitors; and "channel," in which selected partners will include Nokia's solutions into their portfolios.
Robrecht said the "plug in" approach, in particular, "will encourage true cross-industry innovation in a way not seen before" and will enable operators to easily implement their own innovations, which is difficult in an environment of closed interfaces. "Our Liquid Applications which puts an IT server inside the base station, for example, is open to run third-party applications that can give an operator a compelling competitive edge," he noted.
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