“We are ready with our plans to increase manufacturing capacities in Chennai”: Nokia


As India is fast moving towards embracing 5G, the next generation communications technology is set to transform consumer and enterprise experiences and as a leading telecoms gear manufacturer, Nokia is ready to fulfill equipment demands from operators.

Manoj Gurnani, Chief Technology Officer & Head of Strategy, Nokia India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the current focus on 5G as a great enabler and how it can change the communications landscape for India.

Given that India is undoubtedly moving towards the 5G technology and that we are currently in the 5G era, what sort of objectives would Nokia have to reach its full potential?

If we go two years back, we had already anticipated the launch of 5G services once the auctions were through. We were prepared to make sure that our manufacturing was intact. The 5G gear has been produced here for the overseas market and hopefully, our Chennai manufacturing facility would be able to meet all the India requirements as well. We were closely working with all our operator customers. The idea was to understand their technological requirements and come up with solutions. All of this requires a lot of time because India is very different market and the scale which you talk of is too big.

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If you talk about the India based use cases, we were already working to create a startup ecosystem. The objective was to have the ideas incubated with all the students, the academia and give them all the nurturing ground, so that these ideas could be actually concretized and used in the practical. 

In the 5G scenario, how will life change for the end consumer?

We can divide the answer into two parts: the consumer part and the enterprise part. 5G is introducing dimensions to the enterprise and the crucial point is that 5G should not be viewed solely as a telecom technology. The type of use case we are discussing, the 5G ecosystem will include both automobiles and healthcare. Therefore, it is much larger than telecom. When it comes to the consumer side, there are always two things that are being discussed whenever a new technology is introduced, it increases capacity, efficiency and that’s exactly what 5G does to make the experience richer.

If we talk about video, initially we were fine with SD video, HD is nowadays default, 8K will be available tomorrow and 5G will essentially enable all of that. In gaming, there is a latency issue that is specifically solved by 5G. Particularly cloud gaming industry is extremely huge even if it’s a niche market.

When we move towards the enterprise, it has endless capabilities. In India, I would want progress in the agriculture and healthcare sectors. Some of the use cases have an overly large impact like the services provided in agriculture is drone-as-a-service to the small farmers. In India, where two thirds of the country’s farmland is owned by marginal farmers, and this use case will greatly increase their production. When we talk about the hospital and healthcare sector, some of these applications are simply amazing.

To meet the demands of 5G, telecom companies are undoubtedly aiming to upgrade their current network infrastructure. What kind of opportunities do you see here and what are the challenges?

There will be a lot of focus paid to enterprises and how to sell the use cases to these enterprises. A big segment of enterprises would be SMEs now. Operators will therefore need to consider which business case might truly work for the SME segment. We can’t charge so much for an application or a service that it kind of defeats the purpose. We have also discussed immersive experiences and other topics from the consumer perspective. These are the huge opportunities that will come.

Looking at the digitization journey, only 30% of the globe has gone fully been digitized. Therefore, we still have a significant potential of 70% still left. If we look at sector classification or segmentation, we have digital industries, where we can classify finance, banking, insurance, and media industry. Around 60-70% of that is already digitized. Therefore, they have already seen the benefits and have seen increased productivity and efficiencies.

What are some of the most innovative 5G use cases that you can think of, specifically with the Indian context in mind?

 I would like to say the fixed wireless (FWP) will be one successful use case because of the difficult terrains or it is not business wise viable to lay the fiber. FWP is the easiest of the use case and we have also observed it in different parts in America.

Now that 5G is here, how do you intend to rollout out some of the applications alongside the operators?

 We serve as the connectivity partners for operators. There is an enterprise vertical as well, which examines different market groups. If CSPs or the operators, they have to sell the enterprise solutions; we collaborate with them on this. If a big company wishes to have its own private network, we have solutions for them as well. Nokia has about 500 private networks deployed, 100 out of which are for 5G. Currently, all of those private 5G networks are located outside of India.

What will be your approach for the Indian enterprise segment in particular at private 5G? Any specific international businesses in India that you have your eye on for private 5G?

We will work both directly with the enterprises and also work closely with operators. Together, we’ve been working to establish the use case ecosystem, the partner ecosystem, so that we can still reach out to channels that we are unable to directly address.

Would you please elaborate on your long-term manufacturing plans? Now that 5G is available, in the upcoming years, what else can we expect from Nokia?

The coming year will see the real peak of the 5G rollouts. We are grateful to the announcements from all the operators. Therefore, there will be a greater demand for the network gear. We are ready with our plans to increase our manufacturing capacities in Chennai and we’ll be performing video manufacturing, through optical which will involve almost all of the product lines.