Volker Held, Innovation Marketing, Networks, MCA NM Networks Marketing, Nokia Networks, sat with Telecom Review at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, to offer an insight about the development of 5G and the Internet of Things.
What is the significance of Mobile World Congress to Nokia Networks?
At MWC we are able to show what is possible with our new technologies and showcase new possibilities and applications. We are living in very interesting times with the development of IoT, and also 5G in a few years. There will be a lot of new applications and new possibilities far beyond smartphones and far beyond the apps we see today, which will make consumer lives much better, which is what we are showcasing here today.
What has Nokia showcased at MWC so far in relation to 5G and IoT?
We have made a lot of announcements related to 5G, such as new partnerships with operators because it's very important to us to collaborate and work together with operators to find the best 5G technology and also trial 5G technology in real environments to make sure that the technology meets the requirements of operators.
We also made an announcement about a bunch of new 5G applications to showcase the abilities of 5G which go beyond what you see today. We were able to show that we are already able to run pre-standard 5G live on our new commercial radio base station. It means that our current base station is already able to run 5G, which was a major announcement for us.
Regarding IoT, which is already a reality today, we have been able to show people our IoT ecosystem which we are currently building up. We are able to provide all the necessary platforms from the connectivity up to the application layer that are necessary to enable IoT to work seamlessly.
What expertise does Nokia bring to 5G and IoT?
We bring a heritage to the business with our mobile technology experience. This is not only about mobile, but also about the whole network architecture. It means you also have to bring in fixed expertise for example, and we bring this altogether with our service expertise to implement it in real networks. This makes our expertise quite unique in the industry.
Is the development of 5G dependent on the development of IoT?
The Internet of Things doesn't need to wait for 5G. This is something that is already happening now. We have shown here at MWC everything you need to run a successful IoT business today. It's about dedicated connectivity solutions, and we are busy tailoring current LTE technology which has been built for smartphone connectivity and for multi-media; we have tailored it to the needs of IoT. We are bringing it to a point where customers will have better battery-life which is a big problem with devices today.
It's also about device management, and also connectivity management because we need to be able to manage the high number of devices around today. It's a whole stack that you need to cover with IoT, and all of this is something we're providing. We're also thinking ahead: with 5G, low latency has become a possibility, as well as autonomous driving operated by a 5G network, and also virtual reality and robots. IoT is here now, and at Nokia we are looking beyond.
With 2020 set as the target date for the release of 5G, how realistic do you think this date is? And will Nokia be ready for it?
2020 is absolutely realistic. This is according to our current plan. As an industry, we are figuring out what 5G is supposed to deliver, what the key technologies are, and what the standards are. This should all be done by 2019. Even before 2020, we will already be able to pre-standard 5G technology to the market which enables specific use cases. We are not just waiting for 2020, but are slowly making pieces available beforehand. Japan and South Korea are countries that will likely see the first 5G in society, but also the United States and countries in Europe are interested.
What is Nokia's role with artificial intelligence and drone technology which is related to IoT?
This is a big topic for Nokia. We need to have artificial intelligence built into the networks in the future, because when it comes to the use cases, networks are becoming more complex. You need to have a network that manages smart meters, connected cars for example. People are becoming more mobile, and they do not accept any kind of loss of quality experience. You cannot manage this manually anymore, and you also cannot just pre-program the network. The network needs to be able to optimize itself; and not only the network as a whole, but each and every connection. We have started building artificial intelligence to make sure that the network is able to optimize different situations by itself, and also able to learn from previous actions it took and analyze the results those actions generated for future actions.
Can you tell us about the improved downloading times we can expect from 5G?
5G will be able to provide more than 20 gigabits-per-second to the end user, but will be able to go even higher. What does this mean for the end user? It means that they can basically download an entire HD movie within about six seconds.
How will Nokia take""difficult and time-consuming"" out of managing the connectivity of myriad people and things?
We are adopting the concept of ""network slicing"". It means we have one physical network, but we can slice it into different virtual networks. All of those networks are configured in a different way, and tailored to the specific requirements of certain use cases. This requires some new capabilities in the network, such as the ability to virtualize your network, and orchestrate the slices. There needs to be intelligence in the network that is able to configure those slices. We have also demonstrated this live here at MWC. It's a smart way to be able to handle this complexity, and it also opens up new business partners for operators.
How will Nokia eliminate ""slow and complex"" from creating IoT applications?
I think it's important that you are able to offer the whole stack of platforms that are needed. You need to have an application enablement platform, where you know that the applications can use certain capabilities. You also need to have device management in-built so that you know that the devices connect properly to the application and lastly you need to have connectivity management in-built so that it's clear how the device can communicate with the network. We have an end-to-end full stack of these capabilities that means all the applications can make use of that, which I think simplifies the process of developing and introducing applications.
Having an IoT ecosystem, which consists of many application developers, by working together with them, it makes it easier to make use of our platforms, so that we can provide the whole package to our customers.