Nokia confident December 3GPP deadline will be met for nonstandalone 5G NR

Nokia sign (Nokia)
Nokia is contributing to the creation of 5G specs with experience based on its 5G First solution.

Nokia is confident that the industry will be able to meet its self-imposed December 2017 deadline to complete the nonstandalone (NSA) implementation of 5G New Radio (NR), even though a massive amount of work needs to be completed to make that happen.

“I think that the whole industry is committed to making that deadline, so I have no doubt that we will succeed,” Kai Sahala, head of Nokia’s mobile radio marketing, told FierceWirelessTech.

In March, the industry agreed, through 3GPP, to complete the NSA implementation of 5G NR by December 2017, paving the way for large-scale trials and deployments based on the specification in 2019 instead of 2020. AT&T has said it could start some commercial deployments by as early as late 2018 given the revised deadline.

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Nokia is one of the contributors to the 5G standards-making process, and the experience it’s gaining through trials of its 5G First is helping to contribute to the standards, Sahala said. The company expects that kind of work to continue.

Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, 5G First is an end-to-end solution that includes Massive MIMO Adaptive Antennas for 3.5 GHz, 4.5 GHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequency bands, along with the AirScale System Module, AirScale cloud RAN technology and software.

Nokia upgraded its AirScale and AirFrame platforms to 5G based on specifications developed by the KT Special Interests Group (KT SIG) and Verizon 5G TF. Nokia has said the platforms will be adapted to 3GPP as standards develop.

Nokia has been working with Intel to bring devices to market early on, Sahala said. Like earlier wireless technology generations, the phones that are used in 5G trials today are pretty big, like the size of a briefcase, but those will become increasingly smaller.

As Sahala noted, 5G is not just another generation of wireless technology as the industry saw with 3G and 4G. It’s the basis for an industry revolution and that means 5G can change the way people live their lives.

Citing growing interest from operators in the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, Nokia announced last week that it will expand the deployment and development of 5G First, enhancing it with the 3GPP 5G Phase I protocol. 

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri told investment analysts last month that industry momentum around 5G is accelerating earlier than the company had initially expected. He now expects to see notable trials in 2018 and “meaningful deployments” by 2019 in the United States, China and elsewhere.

RELATED: Nokia CEO: 5G accelerating earlier than expected, creating ‘some near-term risk’

Suri also used the conference call as an opportunity to reiterate that 5G is “not just a small cell game.” 5G will cover low, mid and high spectrum bands to address both capacity and coverage, and it will drive changes and investment requirements in other parts of the network as well, which is generally good news for Nokia, he said.

RELATED: Nokia gets OK to conduct 28 GHz demo at Mobile World Congress Americas

Nokia will be among those showing off their 5G skills when Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) debuts in San Francisco Sept. 12. The company received permission from the FCC last month to demonstrate prototype 5G equipment at the event. That equipment, which includes a Flexizone base station and mobile unit, will operate at 27.5-28.35 GHz.