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May 23 2019

Why 5G?

What a difference a generation makes, not just the human kind but the generations of cellular technology. I’m referring to 5G, as everyone is talking about it and it’s not just us in the telecommunications industry!

Policy makers want to understand how the next generation of wireless will improve society and what changes they need to make to spur adoption, while the business sector is eagerly dialoguing with telecom vendors to see how the new capabilities of 5G can help them improve their bottom line. And of course the general media is buzzing about what the coolest devices and applications will be for consumers.

We often focus on the technical side of transformation, but what’s really important is the social-economic impact. A range of positive outcomes are on the horizon, but it’s not so much about endless possibilities as it is about addressing the real needs of communities and businesses. Transportation, healthcare, safety, the environment are what affects all of us every single day. 

While the digitalization and automation of enterprises has yielded productivity benefits, these gains apply to about 30 percent of enterprises, largely in IT-centric industries. Traditional asset-intensive industries - which typically comprise more than two-thirds of GDP of the country - have yet to experience the full benefits of this digital transformation. This is because existing wireless access technologies were not originally designed for industries like manufacturing and hence they do not meet all the needs of industries.

All this talk is a far cry from the launch of 4G when many outside of the telco sector were not so engaged in the early stages, particularly during standardization and trials. Now we have a plethora of companies participating via different interest groups representing everything from mining and the automotive industry to industrial manufacturers.

The 4th industrial revolution is already underway, being ushered in by the promise of what 5G technology will bring to the table. One example is the port of Hamburg, Germany that is testing advanced automation to increase safety and improve environmental conditions. Another is BOSCH working on wireless control of production systems. These and many other companies see 5G as the best technology to address their toughest challenges.

For service providers, this means that opportunities abound to grow their revenues by embracing the transformation to digital. However, it will take a number of steps both technically and operationally to help them become a true digital service provider, the seemingly easy approach of upgrading radio infrastructure will only lead to limited performance and capabilities and shattered aspirations.

To address these challenges and for everyone to benefit requires a virtuous cycle of investment that involves looking at all aspects of the network and operations. For Nokia this investment started many years ago, with our leadership in our research and innovation culminating in our 5G Future X vision. This vision forms the basis of today’s 3GPP architecture, with pioneering contributions to key technologies such as channel coding, massive MIMO, mobile edge computing and an access agnostic core to name a few.

Our industry-leading portfolio has the breadth and depth yet with openness that no other global vendor can match. Furthermore, we also have the knowledge and capability to manage the complexity from planning and design to deployment and operation.

It’s this unique combination of technology and people that resulted in creating the best performing 4G networks, according to RootMetrics* study in 2018, and that’s really important if you want to build the best 5G network. 

5G is different and everyone is talking about it. But few know how to realize it. Investing now for the long-term will be the right approach to achieve the positive impact we all want.

*Source: RootMetrics, (2018)

Nokia already has a range of 5G proof points. We have 37 commercial 5G contracts with CSPs and are engaged with more than 100 CSPs who are evaluating and deploying 5G.

We also have a range of business planning tools to identify the costs and revenue upside.

Whatever your plans for 5G, the important thing is don’t delay. It is closer than you think. The opportunity is there for your taking. 

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #5G #AI #industry40 #VR #spectrum

About Richard (Ric) Herald

Ric is responsible for organizational leadership within Nokia Canada. He also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Nokia Canada Inc. and Chairman of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), and is a member of the North American Senior Leadership Team.  Prior to Nokia, Ric started his career with Bell Atlantic in several executive roles. He has a Master’s in Business Administration from Robert Morris University and a Bachelor’s in Education from Edinboro University.

Ric is married with two adult children and is based in Toronto, Canada.

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