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Networks are life

Networks are life

A dangerous virus emerges and spreads fast. In response, governments implement ‘lockdowns’. Workers, schoolchildren and shoppers stay at home...

So far, so familiar. But now imagine that the year is not 2020, but 2005. Network capacity is well behind the extent it will reach in a few years’ time. Conference calls are possible, but video conferencing still feels like science-fiction: no one makes video calls from home. Teachers are divided from pupils, colleagues from each other.

We have become so used to remote working, entertainment, learning and collaboration that – maybe – the only way to remind ourselves what networks achieve for society is to picture life without them. Then we see that, truly, networks are life.

This year, Nokia took steps to reinforce our leadership in this area, by bringing together our network infrastructure businesses – Fixed Networks, IP Networks, Optical Networks and our Alcatel Submarine Networks business – in the Network Infrastructure (NI) business group.  

In NI, we see three main drivers for our business.  

The first is demand for access. This is expanding rapidly, along with changes in the way people connect, too, with more emphasis on home and small office networks increasing demand for automation and cloud-native functions.

The second driver is capacity demand. All that video – whether streaming or conference calls – requires more bandwidth and speed. The 400G refresh cycle will gain momentum during 2022, driving demand for upgrades and for the integration of 400G in routers for data center interconnect and some metro applications. Capacity demand will also accelerate our subsea investments in next generation spatial division multiplexing.

Finally, we see a driver in 5G and edge cloud. Backhaul networks need to be upgraded to support 5G while, at the same time, edge cloud is driving the distribution of network functions.

With all this demand to fulfil, Network Infrastructure is guided primarily by technology leadership and customer focus.

Technology leadership

We’ve seen great innovations from Network Infrastructure this year, including the launch of FP5; the announcement of our development of a very high gain antenna; and the expansion of our Quillion chip portfolio.  

Looking ahead, in IP Networks, we will continue our investment in in-house designed silicon, in software and in our data center switching portfolio. In our Fixed Networks division, we will build on our strong market share in the new segment of 5G fixed wireless access, and will continue investing in WiFi and cloud mesh technologies and in 25G PON. In our Optical Networks business we’ll enhance our competitive end-to-end optical networking portfolio, focusing on power and performance in transponders, and on our PSE family. In our submarine business, we will target innovation in terrestrial and submarine optical technology convergence, as well as the new areas opened by SDM2.

Customer focus

We never lose sight of the customers for whom we’re developing those technologies.  

For example, much has been said and written about 50G PON. Meanwhile, Nokia has been getting on with delivering the real-life 25G technology our customers increasingly demand: we’ve already launched this in a live network with Proximus. We focus on what customers need, not on bigger numbers for their own sake.  

The same is true in our routing silicon. Speed is nothing without control and precision. FP5 provides features that help customers gain the speed and capacity they need, with the deterministic performance one associates with our FP family.

We also focus on driving down the total cost of ownership through innovation, as well as operational efficiency. TCO is a key driver for Optical Networks, and our software investments in open systems and network automation will reduce customers’ OPEX and TCO, while we aim to offer the highest density, lowest power long haul and metro transport solutions, minimizing power consumption costs.  

For our submarine customers, we aim to reduce TCO through SDM2, including capacity sharing models, and through investments in manufacturing and fleet capacity.

The world is increasingly made up of networks of networks, in which inter-connectedness is as important as the function of each part. The pandemic demonstrates convincingly that networks are life. NI is ready to rise to that challenge and prove ourselves, again, the world’s most trusted systems partner for building the world’s most critical networks.

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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