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Riding the 5G Radio wave

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In 2019 we saw the dawn of the era of the 5G early adopters. By May 2020 80 Communications Service Providers (CSPs) launched commercial 5G services and in total, 385 CSPs are investing in 5G networks. In parallel, regulators are working on opening new spectrum assets for 5G.

As we all know, 5G transforms existing mobile infrastructure and this transformation comes to fruition in waves. CSPs are very keen to minimize potential risks and look for better profitability by reducing deployment and operational costs while moving on with their next network development decisions.

Innovations in radio access allow CSPs to use scattered spectrum assets more effectively and support new business scenarios. Securing existing network investments in radio access is clearly another key priority for CSPs eager to maintain profitability.

Meeting the challenges faced by CSPs demands a unique set of capabilities.

Covering all your bases

With many types of deployment scenarios, ranging from urban to suburban and rural, CSPs need different form factors and, depending on available spectrum assets, the widest possible range of frequency bands. Nokia’s AirScale 5G radio portfolio offers the broadest range of high performance 5G radios, RRHs, Radio Modules (RFM), Beamforming RRHs and mMIMO antenna arrays. It also covers TDD as well as FDD, macro, micro and pico, indoor and outdoor solutions, and supports all the frequency bands used by CSPs across the globe.

Riding the 5G Performance Wave

CSPs frequently need to increase system performance to deal with a widely separated, non-contiguous spectrum allocation. This often requires the deployment of more radios.

While doing this, CSPs also need to keep network investment and operating costs under control. Nokia’s radio solutions help them achieve this through one of the widest radio frequency (RF) and instantaneous bandwidth (iBW) portfolios on the market, helping them minimize the number of radio units needed. It also allows CSPs to apply for a wide range of spectrum assets during auctions.

Increased performance and reduced operating costs are also achieved by equipping Nokia AirScale Baseband and Radio solutions with the latest technology SoCs from the ReefShark™ family. In Q1 2020, around 17% of Nokia radios were “Powered By ReefShark” and this ratio is expected to reach 35% by the end of 2020 with the recent commercial launch of the next generation of Nokia 5G mMIMO antennas.

Profitable sharing

Network sharing agreements between CSPs can be used to substantially reduce their infrastructure costs. BEREC, the body for European telecoms regulators, estimated that active network sharing agreements can generate savings for CSPs between 33%-45% on CAPEX and 25%-33% on OPEX.  Network sharing simultaneously maximizes efficiency, increases competitiveness and enhances customer satisfaction.  

Nokia’s massive-MIMO portfolio supports innovative Split Mode operation - this doubles the occupied bandwidth (oBW) over the full RF bandwidth, without a corresponding drop in performance. It can bring savings in antenna and fronthaul investments, reduces power consumption and lowers site rental costs.


While 5G takes advantage of new spectrum assets, it also defines support in most existing LTE bands today.  With some 750 commercial LTE CSPs covering 86% of the global population, upgrading existing radio assets can produce huge cost savings.  To secure their existing investment, the ability to upgrade their network to 5G is crucial for CSPs.

Most Nokia FDD legacy radios shipped from 2012 onwards can be upgraded to 5G. Nokia has the widest range of upgradeable radios, ensuring CSPs achieve a smooth migration to 5G.

Other radio solutions include Nokia Single RAN (SRAN). This consists of multipurpose hardware and common software for 2G, 3G, for TD- and FD 4G and 5G technologies, reducing the complexity and increasing cost efficiency.

Nokia AirFrame Fronthaul Gateway (FHGW) is a network element allowing CSPs to connect legacy CPRI-based radios to the new Ethernet-based all-in-cloud BTS architecture, while the radio CPRI interfaces remain unchanged.

Maximum efficiency for every deployment scenario

Nokia’s single and multi-band RRHs are suitable for all deployment scenarios, such as 2T2R, 2T4R, 4T4R and 8T8R, with a wide power range from 120 to 480W. A single unit of the unique 6T6R Radio Frequency Module (RFM) is needed to serve a 3-sector site with 2x2MIMO.

As mobile networks become denser, the effects of passive intermodulation (PIM) increase – this can create interference that can reduce a cell’s receive sensitivity or even block calls.  To prevent this, all Nokia multi-band radios have features to cancel out passive intermodulation. In most use cases, no extra unit is needed, improving cost efficiencies while offering the best PIM cancellation performance. The Nokia solution is available and field proven.

Lastly, 5G digital design from Nokia’s planning & optimization services uses extensive data analysis powered by AI & machine learning to identify customized planning needs vis-a-vis band additions, upgrades, C-Hub locations & readiness for the best returns on an CSP’s investments.

This year we all had to skip MWC2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the ensuing increased reliance on remote communications, we need our networks more than ever and 5G will become increasingly important. Investing in radio access is the largest part of any network upgrade, making it essential to select a radio portfolio that gives you the best possible performance and the highest reliability, while minimizing costs. Nokia continues to deliver and innovate so you can ‘ride the wave’ of the future and continue to deliver an extraordinary 5G experience.

Please take a journey through a series of webinars to see how you can monetize your 5G investment and evolve your network end-to-end to realize the promise of 5G -

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G, #AirScale,#mMIMO,#Beamforming, #ReefShark,#mmwave,#cmwave

Tamas Dankovics

About Tamas Dankovics

Tamás works in Nokia’s 5G marketing team responsible for AirScale – the company’s latest cutting edge 5G radio access solution. He’s addicted to the electromagnetic spectrum beyond cm and mmWaves – and spends his free time capturing images of objects in the solar system and beyond.

Tweet me at @Tamas_Dankovics

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