Boingo to trial Nokia’s latest MEC advancements

Nokia network (Nokia)
Nokia is prepared to make multi-operator and multi-access network interworking commercially available. Image: Nokia

Nokia is introducing technologies that leverage licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum for creating robust, private end-to-end networks, and it already has an operator lined up for a trial: Boingo Wireless.

The new offering involves Nokia’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) capabilities—and yes, the MEC acronym in the not-so-distant past used to refer to Mobile Edge Computing but the change is designed to reflect the fact that it applies to not just mobile but fixed as well. Nokia is combining its MEC capabilities and leveraging its Flexi Zone, Cloud Packet Core and global services know-how to open up new opportunities for enterprises.

For example, by combining multi-operator implementations and multi-access networks, “we can use MEC capabilities so that we can bridge between enterprise Wi-Fi inside a building or a private wireless network that a neutral host company might build, for example, and attach that to an operator’s wireless network so that you can extend into an enterprise or a venue … and use all of the available spectrum that you have,” explained Phil Twist, head of Mobile Networks Marketing & Communications at Nokia.

MEC enables interworking between multi-operator, multi-access RAN networks to boost performance and quality in venues and enterprise buildings. The Cloud Packet Core allows for common anchoring of licensed spectrum, such as 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, as well as shared and unlicensed spectrum, including Wi-Fi, MulteFire and LTE-based CBRS technologies to support a range of mobile broadband, IoT/massive machine-type communication enterprise services and applications.

“Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is now at the foundation of Boingo’s next-generation networks and participation in trials involving the technology helps keep us at the forefront of wireless connectivity,” said Derek Peterson, chief technology officer at Boingo, in a prepared statement. “New NFV advancements like Nokia’s latest MEC capabilities will be crucial to the 5G vision and convergence of LTE and Wi-Fi.”

RELATED: Boingo plans to push NFV and SDN across 'majority' of its Wi-Fi networks this year

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 later this month, Nokia is also going to be showcasing what it describes as the industry-first MulteFire release 1.0-compliant live service running on a commercial Flexi Zone small cell. One of the demonstrations will use MulteFire carrier aggregation to boost network performance while Nokia also will show how MulteFire could be developed in the future to support narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) connectivity for more efficient use of spectrum and increased battery life of devices.

And don’t be surprised if you hear Nokia talking about how enterprises, venues and the hospitality industry in the United States will be able to use the shared 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum to deploy private LTE networks for their own business needs while also providing access to operators’ subscribers. Nokia says its CBRS Flexi Zone small cells, combined with a neutral host gateway and neutral host capable devices, will enable private CBRS LTE network owners to easily provide transparent connectivity for operators’ subscribers, thereby helping service providers meet densification and indoor penetration needs on their way to 5G.

RELATED: Nokia CEO: 4.5 Pro, 4.9G ‘getting traction’

Speaking of 5G, Nokia plans to introduce its 4.9G technologies—including massive MIMO—by the end of 2017, offering operators the ability to boost capacity on the path to 5G.