Nokia signed a one-year frame agreement with China Mobile that is worth CNY9.93 billion (€1.36 billion/$1.5 billion) to the Finland-based vendor and covers a broad range of technologies.
Under the agreement, China Mobile will make use of Nokia technology to prepare its network for the future demands of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The company, which is the largest mobile operator in the world as well as in China, will deploy Nokia's AirScale base station, which is designed to allow multiple radio technologies to operate simultaneously in one base station.
Nokia will also provide additional elements of its mobile radio access and core portfolio in addition to fixed access, IP routing and optical transport, customer experience management, operational support system (OSS) and third-party products as well as its global services expertise.
In future, Nokia said it will continue to work closely with China Mobile to define the products and services that will enable the operator to meet ever-growing demands in a country where 620 million of a total 688 million Internet users rely on mobile devices to connect to online services. Indeed, mobile phones were the most popular choice for 71.5 per cent of new users accessing the Internet in China during 2015, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre.
Nokia launched the AirScale next-generation radio access technology at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year as part of its efforts to meet future demands not only for 5G and the IoT but also for virtual reality, augmented reality, factories of the future and other advanced scenarios such as video that demand extreme performance.
The company said the system supports any radio technology from 2G through to LTE Advanced Pro and is also "5G ready" with integrated carrier-grade Wi-Fi access.
At MWC, Nokia claimed the demonstration of its AirScale radio access was "an industry first" and said the hardware would accelerate operators' transition to 5G while cutting the cost of migrating their existing LTE infrastructure.
The vendor also said that the technology would enable operators to offer early 5G services from 2017, and begin full commercial 5G operations around 2020.
Lauri Oksanen, VP of R&D at Nokia, told FierceWireless:Europe at the Barcelona event that early tests of the company's 5G equipment are already delivering the low-latency that most in the industry consider will be a key feature of the next generation technology.
Oksanen also commented that the early availability of 5G-capable equipment would be important in fuelling operator trials of the technology ahead of commercial launches in 2020.
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