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A new goal for our industry: broadband zero

city roads with virtual connections

Technology’s seat at the top table has been firmly consolidated by the events of the last couple of years.  The pandemic has brought technology into every space of human activity, from work to education to recreation to health.  Increasingly, networks are life, not only metaphorically but literally.  

The question for our industry is: what should we do with this increasing relevance and importance?

Nokia believes that our industry needs to focus, now more than ever, on some of the biggest problems the world faces, such as social exclusion, inequality, access to services, environmental degradation and climate change.  ICT can play an enormous role in addressing these problems.

Nokia calls this vision ‘broadband zero’, because it envisages a world in which we use our innovation power to ensure zero communities are excluded from broadband; in which zero people are left behind; and in which we aim for zero waste.

Broadband zero has four parts.  

First is ‘zero left behind’, which is about deploying fiber and fixed wireless solutions to connect every building and using meshed wi-fi to connect everyone and everything inside the home. As we know, spectrum is in heavy demand, and we see customers increasingly interested in using millimetre wave as an overlay on existing LTE grids (for nearby subscribers), freeing sub-6 GHz for longer distance use. But mmWave brings challenges with line of sight and indoor penetration. Nokia has developed – and we’re currently trialling – a CPE technology that can easily cope with these problems, using a very high gain antenna that can be integrated into 5G FWA CPEs. It will identify and use the strongest signal it can find, as well as amplifying even a very weak signal. And it will continually optimise its performance to cope with changing surroundings.  

‘Zero limits’ is all about technology. Innovations such as Nokia’s multi-PON solution allow communication service providers – including our customers Proximus, Openreach, DELTA Fiber, KPN and TIM – to deploy 10G...and get 25G. The solution is both backwards-compatible and future-ready. In addition, at the Broadband World Forum event this year, we announced our ‘application containers’ for CSPs, developed in collaboration with expert third parties like F-Secure, Broadpeak and Cloudflare. Using application containers, service providers can quickly and easily install new applications directly on the CPE, bringing everything from enhanced privacy and VPN services, to essential cyber security and beyond.

The idea of ‘continuous optimisation’ is also encapsulated in our 'zero touch’ concept. We know that fully autonomous networks are the future. But getting there from here is not so easy. New network builds are one thing. But how should we deal with the millions of broadband connections that are already in the field today? Nokia provides a phased transition path to SDN, enabling operators to introduce our solution at their own pace and enabling specific use cases that make sense in a multi-vendor network or a multi-technology environment supporting FTTH, FTTX and 5G.

The final part of our ‘zero broadband’ story is ‘zero waste’, which is about the responsible use of all resources. Let’s start with energy. Most of the CO2 emissions resulting from our products comes from power consumption while in use. That’s why we focus intently on this area. Our Quillion chip helps us to slash power consumption by half, compared to previous product generations. Meanwhile, progress in packaging technology means that we can make more efficient use of transportation, as well as reducing waste through recyclable materials.  

These are great developments and we’re proud of them all. However, we cannot stop there. The European Commission has pointed out that, while the ICT industry is directly responsible for two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, we can affect up to 15 percent by helping reduce emissions not only from our own industry, but from all sectors of the economy.  From smart cities and buildings to smart transport and agriculture to manufacturing 4.0...the possibilities are endless.

Absolute zero – as we know – can only ever be a theoretical point. But ‘broadband zero’, while challenging, is a goal well within our reach, as a company, an industry, and a society. Nokia – for one – is committed to that challenge, and impatient to take it on, in collaboration with our customers, partners and others in the ICT ecosystem.

Federico Guillén

About Federico Guillén

As President of Network Infrastructure at Nokia – a group that combines Nokia’s IP Networks, Optical Networks, Fixed Networks and Alcatel Submarine Networks businesses – Federico is responsible for a wide range of critical networks for customers in both the communication service provider (CSP) and webscale segments globally.

In his spare time he enjoys golfing, playing chess, alternately celebrating and lamenting the fortunes of the Real Madrid team, and spending time with his family.

Connect with Federico on LinkedIn.

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