NSN beefs up base stations

Nokia Siemens Networks announced on Sunday a new mobile edge computing platform that enables mobile base stations to host and run apps, and serve as local analytics engines to leverage real-time network and user data.
At a press/analyst briefing in Barcelona on the eve of Mobile World Congress 2013, NSN chief executive Rajeev Suri unveiled Liquid Applications, the latest addition to the company’s Liquid Network framework.
At the heart of Liquid Applications is the new Radio Applications Cloud Server (RACS), which is integrated with NSN’s Flexi BTS and leverages IBM’s WebSphere Application Service Platform for Networks (ASPN) platform to provide a “standards-based cloud runtime environment” that enables “localized processing, content storage, and access to real-time radio and network information in the base station”.
“Think of this as an internet cloud server that’s really close to the customer,” said Suri. “Caching content locally is nothing new in itself, but we're taking it a step further – right into the base station, and enhancing it with real-time radio network and end user information. When you have that, you can offer services that are personal, relevant and local.”
Suri said Liquid Apps also opens up opportunities for cellcos to cooperate with OTT players and application developers, and beef up location-based services in ways that are “more sophisticated than finding the closest Starbucks”.
For example, he said, “Operators could host content locally on the base station and provide service-level guarantees for priority content such as video streaming of a live concert.”
Marc Rouanne, head of Mobile Broadband at NSN, said during a Q&A session at Sunday’s event that Liquid Applications can be adapted for equipment from different vendors, “but it’s more beautiful in an NSN framework.”
NSN already has at least one operator interested. SK Telecom will sign an agreement with the equipment vendor later this week at MWC to cooperate in testing the Liquid Applications solution for the cello’s LTE network – specifically, for its “Service-Aware RAN” concept that envisions “an intelligent base station that provides customers with a unique mobile experience through a wide variety of customized services.”
The Liquid Apps announcement follows a flurry of announcements from NSN ahead of MWC, including expansion of its small cell portfolio with new Micro and Pico base stations for LTE and Wi-Fi; Smart Wi-Fi to integrate WLANs with cellular networks; and new content packs for its off-the-shelf Operations on Demand platform.
Also at the NSN event, Suri gave an update on NSN’s financial situation since the company announced its restructure a year ago, which included focusing on mobile broadband, jettisoning seven divisions, dropping contracts in lower-performing markets in favor of LTE powerhouse markets Japan, Korea and the US.
Suri said NSN’s strategy has paid off handsomely, pointing to an increase in sales, gross margin and operating profit in the second half of 2012.
“2012 was financially the best year in NSN’s history,” Suri said.