“We offer digital design and deployment capabilities for a faster 5G roll out”: Nokia

Tarun Chhabra

Spotlight on 5G Innovations | TelecomDrive.com

At a time when telecom operators are looking forward to rapidly deploy 5G networks and cater to the growing demands from consumers – Nokia’s digital design platform creates a Digital twin of the network that can visualize ‘what if’ scenarios to design and optimize the network performance, before the actual physical implementation.

Nokia’s deployment capabilities include Digital site survey using drones and 3D cameras, Digitalization in site acquisition, ‘zero touch’ and ‘plug and play’ commissioning, Digital site acceptance and Digitalized Logistics functions.

As part of our Disruptive Telecoms initiative, Tarun Chhabra, Head of Mobile Networks Business, Nokia India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s strategy on tapping India’s 5G market and how the company is driving innovation while enabling 5G networks with latest technologies.

Nokia Logo

With 5G rollout in India to expedite in the coming year, how is Nokia prepared to deliver 5G network gear to the telcos in India?

Since the launch of 5G services in India in October 2022, both the major CSPs, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, have been rolling out their 5G networks at a very fast pace. The size and scale of 5G deployment in India will be at par with some of the biggest markets in the world.

We were preparing ourselves quite in advance for the 5G deployment in India -whether it was the upskilling of our people, increasing the production, or hiring of skilled work force. Having announced major 5G deals with both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, Nokia is already partnering with both the CSPs and supplying 5G equipment for their infrastructure built up.

We have already been manufacturing 5G radio equipment at our Chennai factory for the global markets and are now leveraging it for the domestic market. We are deploying several thousand sites in the country every month. To manage and execute such a massive scale of deployment, we have been steadily ramping up the manufacturing capabilities of our Chennai factory to keep up with the demand.

What are the major 5G use cases that you foresee getting a major push in the country?

5G is more than just a new generation of technology – it brings a paradigm shift in the role of mobile technologies beyond connectivity. Based on our global 5G experience from different markets, some of the major 5G use cases we believe would see wider adoption in India include:

  • Fixed Wireless Access: FWA can be offered to consumers and enterprises as an alternative to fixed broadband and for providing high speed connectivity to remote areas and locations where fiber laying is not feasible
  • Video: Video applications are already very popular and 5G brings significant improvement to enhance the overall experience
  • Immersive experience: AR/ VR (Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality) and cloud gaming will piggyback on the 5G for low latency, higher bandwidth, and seamless experience
  • Smart venues: Live video streams, AR displays, 3D hologram footage for sports events, concerts, festivals etc.
  • Industry 4.0 and private wireless: Industrial grade private wireless is best suited to cost-effectively implement the widest range of Industry 4.0 applications and use cases at scale with minimal infrastructure.

With PLI and other initiatives by Government to push the manufacturing of telecom equipments in India, how is Nokia contributing to the indigenous manufacturing?

The production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme was introduced to provide a focused push to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, covering telecom and twelve other sectors. With a booming digital economy, coupled with the launch of 5G, the demand for telecom gear has grown multi-fold in the country. Nokia is fully aligned with the ‘Make in India’ mission and is one among one of the major investors and producers under the PLI scheme.

As one of the first global telecom companies to start manufacturing in India, we have invested over INR 4,200 Cr in driving value creation in the country. Our Chennai factory manufactures a range of telecom products, including 4G/LTE radio, 5G NR (new radio) and 5G massive MiMo radios among others – 50% of which is exported to global markets. The site has till date delivered over 6 million telecom equipment units. Nearly all 4G radios for the domestic market are manufactured locally and we aim to follow the same trend for 5G as well. Further, we are looking at expanding our manufacturing line up to include IP/ optics and fixed networks.

Recently DoT (Department of Telecommunications) has approved 42 companies for receiving benefits under the design-led PLI scheme, sometimes referred to as PLI 2.0, for manufacturing telecom and networking products – we are proud to be part of PLI 2.0 as well.

Industry 4.0 with 5G technology will be game changer for the enterprises. Would Nokia be collaborating directly with enterprises or would you partner with telcos instead to move forward in the area?

Enterprises across the globe are looking at offering new services and enhancing their delivery capabilities to serve more customers and increase their revenues. They need to transform and digitalize to become more responsive, more agile, and more innovative. This is where Industry 4.0 and 5G can be the game changer – leveraging new and transformative applications of technology to drive industrial growth and profitability.

Nokia has delivered value for over 1500 mission critical customer networks across the globe. We are the recognized global leader in private wireless networks. Our solutions enable the enterprises to create a digitized business experience, improve cost management and drive economies of scale.

We have good footprint across all CSPs in India and look forward to partner with them for offering connectivity and private wireless solutions to their enterprise.  However, we are also open to work with enterprises who want to deploy their own private network. We are here to help them achieve their goals of sustainability, automation, and efficiency. 

What are the innovations that Nokia is focusing on to make sustainable network rollouts across the globe and India?

The radio access network (RAN) accounts for about 80 percent of all mobile network energy consumption. We are constantly working towards maximizing the energy efficiency of our radio products, outlining our commitment to climate change and zero emission. This is enabled by continuous improvements in software functionalities and new mMIMO product variants based on our latest Reefshark SoCs (System on Chip).

We have developed an innovative network design approach that focusses on reducing the network power consumption. Our Digital Design for Energy Efficiency approach monitors each individual cell with respect to interference, load, and site configuration. This results in a cell optimized configuration with an overall lower transmit power, lower CO2 footprint and a reduced energy bill – without compromising on network performance and end user experience. We are also adding several advanced energy efficiency features based on machine learning, to our self-organizing networks (SON) solution.

Further, we offer digital design and deployment capabilities for a faster, more sustainable, and higher quality 5G network roll out. Our digital design platform creates a Digital twin of the network that can visualize ‘what if’ scenarios to design and optimize the network performance, before the actual physical implementation. Our deployment capabilities include Digital site survey using drones and 3D cameras, Digitalization in site acquisition, ‘zero touch’ and ‘plug and play’ commissioning, Digital site acceptance and Digitalized Logistics functions.

How do you think the Indian market will adopt 5G on the consumer end?

The strong appetite for data in the country makes 5G a very attractive proposition for the Indian consumers. The tech savvy generation spends almost 8 hours per day online and India is ranked among the top data consuming nations worldwide. Average data per user per month in India grew 3x in last five years and reached 17GB/ user/ month as per Nokia MBiT report 2022. This trend will get a further boost with 5G and the per user data consumption is expected to grow 2x to 3x in next four to five years with 5G.

India is leading the world ranking in digital payments and has completed nearly 70 billion digital payment transactions in 2022 as per market reports. 5G will further boost the digital economy and the volume of such digital transactions in the country.

Mobile 5G services are forecasted to generate US$9.0 bn, equivalent to 37.7% of total mobile service revenue in India, by 2026. Further, with India being a mobile dominated country when it comes to internet connectivity, we will see wider adoption of 5G and Fixed Wireless Access to bridge the digital divide and provide high speed reliable internet connectivity to remote, underserved and/ or unserved areas.

The interview is published as part of January 2023 issue of Disruptive Telecoms.