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Proud to present: new generation of Nokia AirScale base station

Proud to present: new generation of Nokia AirScale base station

Last week we announced the launch of our next generation, industry leading AirScale base station product portfolio, which includes new radio units, massive MIMO active antennas with 3D digital beamforming, and baseband units. These products set industry benchmarks for 5G and Single RAN radio access network (RAN) performance, capacity, connectivity, and efficiency, building on our next generation ReefShark SoCs (System-on-Chip) and the modular and scalable architecture of AirScale base stations.

At Nokia, we are creating the technology that helps the world act together. We are improving and enhancing the way in which people, businesses and things connect with each other. Every day, billions of people use Nokia base stations to call friends, family, and colleagues, use social media, or access the Internet. In fact, 29 of the top 30 mobile operator groups of the world by subscriber base run Nokia base stations*.

With the newly launched AirScale base station solutions, our customers will be able to offer premium 5G capacity and coverage, with wider radio spectrum support and lower energy consumption. This new generation of our AirScale portfolio marks a major milestone securing Nokia’s full portfolio competitiveness and technology leadership in RAN. Taking a closer look at what’s ‘under the hood’, our customers will get:

  • New 64TRX and 32TRX AirScale Massive MIMO active antennas with 3D digital beamforming, as well as new remote radio head (8T8R) units. At only 17kg, the 32TRX massive MIMO antenna is the industry’s lightest product in its category, simplifying and speeding up site deployments, which is crucial in dense urban areas. However, its light design makes no compromises in capacity and performance, as this product also supports the industry-widest radio frequency bandwidth, up to 400 MHz, and high output power of 320W. The extended radio bandwidth is particularly interesting to operators with very wide or fragmented spectrum holdings, as well as operators combining their spectrum assets to share a network. And yes, the radio platforms and SoCs inside are O-RAN ready.
  • New AirScale baseband plug-in units to deliver up to three times more throughput and serving up to eight times more cells compared to previous generations. Nokia AirScale system module with the new plug-in units can support 90,000 simultaneously connected users and 84 Gbps throughput across 288 cells. The new baseband units support Nokia’s full-fledged Single RAN system software which includes all radio access technologies (RAT) from 2G to 5G, opening a whole new level of efficiencies with common transport, common operability, common HW, and common software delivery. And yes, the new baseband products are also O-RAN ready, just like our existing vRAN (Virtualized RAN) solution with vCU (virtualized Centralized Unit) and vDU (virtualized Distributed Unit).
  • Powered by the latest Nokia ReefShark System on Chip (SoC) technology, the new radio and baseband products offer not only higher capacity and connectivity and extended bandwidths, but also significantly improved energy efficiency, for example reducing the baseband power consumption by up to 75 percent. Energy efficiency is a major focus area for our customers and us at Nokia collectively - helping our customers to lower their energy bills and doing our part in helping to curb climate change. Pushing more and more bits over the air must happen in a sustainable way.

Fig. 1.

Our SoCs, radio platforms and baseband platforms have been prepared for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML). There are numerous exciting and promising use cases for AI/ML in RAN, such as Massive MIMO beam pattern optimization, energy saving, advanced traffic steering, advanced packet scheduling, and anomaly pattern discovery – and many more. Researchers at Nokia Bell Labs and at leading universities around the world have confirmed the great potential in improving network performances with AI/ML. Watch out, Viterbi!

This new AirScale product suite positions Nokia at the forefront of the industry. We have taken many steps to achieve this leadership position by significantly increasing our R&D investment and accelerating SoC development. Our ReefShark SoC technology, developed with Nokia’s intellectual property blocks in partnership with leading SoC houses with their particular technology assets is both the brain and heart of our radio and baseband products. We previously stated that 35% of our products would be based on ReefShark technology by the end of 2020 – we exceeded that with a figure of 43%. We are on our way to achieving our target of ~70% of our product deliveries being based on ReefShark technology by the end of 2021. By the end of 2022 our AirScale radio access portfolio will be fully based on ReefShark SoCs.

Integrating ReefShark technology enables us to deliver products that provide higher throughput capacity, higher subscriber connectivity, higher cell connectivity, are smaller in size, weigh less, support extended radio bandwidths, feature AI/ML intelligence, consume less power consumption and minimize TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Nokia’s new RAN products arrive just in time before we are seeing a surge in 5G mobile broadband traffic growth around the world. For example, in South Korea – the most progressive mobile broadband market in the world - the average monthly data usage per 5G subscriber is already almost three times the level of 4G usage. We know from one of our operator customers in South Korea that 5G users are consuming more new services - and much more often, with a 7x increase in virtual reality, 4x increase in video streaming, and 3x increase in cloud gaming. This demand for new services - and more services - means that we all need to get ready for the future of Radio Access Networks, and our customers will be looking at:

  • Higher capacity and connectivity
  • Scalability and future-proofness
  • Wider radio spectrum support
  • More intelligence with AI/ML
  • Shared infrastructure and
  • Lower energy consumption.

What’s more, going forward, with the help of capabilities such as standalone architecture and network slicing, new consumer and Enterprise use cases in IoT (Internet of Things) will be driving growth beyond today’s enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). Already today, Nokia is a trusted partner to more than 300 enterprises who are improving the speed, quality, cost-efficiency and customer experience of their businesses by using Private Wireless Networks.

We are extremely proud to offer this new generation of products to our customers. The best part? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. With these new platforms, we are in a better place than ever to introduce lots of new SW functionality, features and performance in our 5G and Single RAN systems. On top of these platforms, our RAN portfolio will continue to enrich with SW, AI and ML. It is still early days in the 5G cycle. As I said at our Nokia Capital Markets Day, we estimate the peak of the 5G market will last roughly twice as long as the peak of the 4G market.

At Nokia, we create the technology that helps the world act together. At Mobile Networks, we create the wireless access part of that technology – and this technology has just become more powerful than ever.

*source: GSMA Intelligence


Tommi Uitto

About Tommi Uitto

Tommi is the President of Mobile Networks at Nokia and also serves as the Country Senior Officer of Nokia Finland. He joined the company in 1996, dividing his over 25 years between senior roles in sales, product management and R&D. He’s a passionate, charismatic leader, who loves winning deals and seeing customers thrive. Tommi has an M.Sc. from Helsinki University of Technology and Michigan Technological University. He is a keen wine collector and is often to be seen showcasing his impressive skills on the barbecue.

Connect with Tommi on LinkedIn
Tweet me at @tommiuitto

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