Nokia integrates Qualcomm 5G RAN platform for indoor small cells

Nokia building logo
Nokia this week also announced a deal with Chunghwa Telecom to deploy 5G small cells in Taiwan. (Getty Images)

Nokia is using Qualcomm’s 5G RAN platform to boost indoor small cells for coverage in residential and small enterprise locations.  

The Finnish vendor’s new 5G Smart Node using the Qualcomm FSM100xx modem should be available starting in the first quarter of 2021.

Band support initially includes n78, and all sub-bands within, according to Nokia. That will be followed by support for band n41 (which is T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz), n77 (which covers C-band spectrum in the U.S.) and n48 (CBRS in the U.S.).

The new mountable product can be affixed to tabletops, ceilings, or walls, with a plug-and-play package that reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) since it doesn’t require in-house expertise for installation.

High-quality 5G coverage indoors is key, Nokia says, as 80% of mobile sessions originate inside the homes and small businesses and wider-bandwidth frequencies have difficulty penetrating buildings. That issue is often mentioned when discussing high-band millimeter wave 5G deployments, but the new small cells are targeting sub-6 GHz frequencies, which also add capacity.

Verizon is currently field testing and plans to deploy indoor 5G mmWave small cells from Corning and Samsung later this year.

RELATED: Verizon to deploy indoor 5G mmWave sites with Corning, Samsung

Nokia called out a significantly lower price point and compact form factor as making it easier to deliver 5G. It said operators can simultaneously address 5G network densification and indoor coverage needs.

As for the addition of Qualcomm’s small cell chipset, the nodes can be upgraded via software to support new mobile standards and releases down the line.

The small cells also support Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), emergency helpline services, local break out and telecom-grade security, which Nokia said will help operators avoid the costs of a macro deployments while meeting indoor requirements.  

When asked about support for private networks, a spokesperson said: “Private in-building networks are planned for the future.”

Nokia said the new nodes complement its portfolio of 5G small cells, including the AirScale Micro Remote Radio Head and AirScale Indoor Radio.

“We are delighted to be joining forces with Nokia to bring our industry-leading 5G RAN innovations to a wider array of use-cases and settings. The flexibility and low-price points of 5G Smart Node products resulting from our close engagement with the team at Nokia will help accelerate the adoption of 5G in the residential and small office markets,” said Durga Malladi, SVP and general manager, 4G/5G at Qualcomm, in a statement.

In related Nokia small cell news this week, the vendor announced it won a deal with Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) to deploy non-standalone (NSA) 5G small cell solutions across Taiwan.

The deployment already started, and Nokia has installed 140 5G small cells for CHT so far.  Similar to today’s announcement, the rollout with CHT is focused on delivering 5G coverage to targeted locations That includes indoor connectivity for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as popular tourist districts.