NSN lays out plans for the '5G' mobile network of 2020

Seeking to set itself apart in the competitive arena for network infrastructure, Nokia Siemens Networks offered up Technology Vision 2020, its blueprint for profitably delivering 1 gigabyte of personalized data per user per day within the next seven years.

Hossein Moiin

Hossein Moiin

The company listed six pillars of the vision: enable 1,000 times more capacity, reduce latency to milliseconds, teach networks to be self-aware, personalize network experience, reinvent telco for the cloud and flatten total energy consumption.

Hossein Moiin, executive vice president, technology and innovation, and member of NSN's executive board, said the key word overriding all of these efforts is profitability, not just for network operators and vendors but for end users as well. To support 1,000 times more capacity, the industry must "reduce the cost of production of each gigabyte of data by a factor of 50 over the next seven years," Moiin told FierceBroadbandWireless.

The so-called pillars of NSN Technology Vision 2020 are widely acknowledged across the mobile industry as necessary requirements for future networks. Yet, Moiin asserted NSN has a unique approach and is particularly active in working closely with its network customers as well best-in-class partners. "This is realizable. We know how to do this," he said.

NSN claims it is "driving 5G research," which prompts a rather obvious question: What exactly is "5G"? Moiin acknowledged the obfuscation, saying, "I don't really know what 5G is because it's not defined yet."

While he does not seen the need for a brand new modulation scheme, Moiin said it is clear that the industry must work to ensure fundamental progress in several areas, including overall spectral efficiency, use of all available spectrum in many bands and integration of different access technologies into a common network. "When we begin to combine these techniques, we can begin to say, 'This will be the next-generation mobile network,'" said Moiin.

"5G appears to be the combination of different techniques and technologies that enable us to improve capacity and latency of the mobile networks," he added.

NSN counts under the heading of "5G research" its leading role in the HetNet stream in METIS, an EU funded 5G flagship research project. In addition, the vendor recently spearheaded the world's first live Authorized Shared Access (ASA) trial to dynamically access unused spectrum. And earlier this year it demonstrated a small cell integrated backhaul antenna.

Moiin also touted NSN's Liquid Applications effort as a key approach to reducing latency by turning the base station into an intelligent part of the mobile operator's network to store, process and deliver local content in close proximity to the end user. Some have suggested this approach appears to conflict with industry efforts to roll out software-defined networking, which would rely upon less expensive, commodity network devices at the edge.

"I do not believe Liquid Applications and virtualization are mutually exclusive," said Moiin.

"There are different network architectures that require different solutions," he continued, asserting that in backhaul-limited areas, for example, use of Liquid Applications "makes a lot of sense" because it brings network intelligence closer to end users.

Nonetheless, Moiin acknowledged that in situations where an operator has lots of fiber between base stations and the data center, "then it may be possible to do the same thing in a more centralized fashion," thus enabling more virtualization.

NSN has been enjoying marketplace success gleaned from its dedicated focus on mobile broadband, announced in November 2011. Most recently, ABI Research ranked NSN as the top macro base station vendor, citing its "outstanding performance in innovation and implementation," as well as "best-in-class rank for the essential IP, advanced features, multi-protocol support and LTE RAN contracts criteria."

For more:
- see this NSN release and this blog entry
- see this ABI release

Related articles:
NSN's Corker talks small cells, the transition to LTE and the reality of '5G'
Ericsson, NSN focus spotlight on Wi-Fi traffic steering
Nokia Siemens CEO: Little revenue from small cells till after 2015
Nokia Siemens study shows why it's important to get VoLTE right
Nokia Siemens closer to becoming an 'independent entity'

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