Nokia partnering with telcos on small cell deployment

Nokia has said its new 'small cells practice' will shorten the deployment of the miniature base stations down to just 16 weeks.

Nokia has unveiled a new way of deploying small cells in a bid to support Australian telecommunications providers in building out additional mobile coverage within a shorter timeframe.

Nokia told ZDNet that it already has a number of projects in line with operators to use its new small cells practice, and has completed a pilot deployment in an "iconic Sydney location".

Globally, Nokia said it has more than 220 customers using its small cells solutions, with the networking giant now close to finalising its first formal small cells practice projects.

"Nokia's Oceania small cells practice will help operators plan, design, and deploy modular solutions using Nokia's leading range of small cells technology," Nokia said.

"A key aspect to the solution is an archive of more than 30,000 small cell-appropriate assets with pre-agreed engineering designs in place with site owners and operators."

The practice, which took Nokia nine months to test, provides a predictable, low-cost, "highly repeatable" site solution for rolling out small cells -- or miniature base stations -- within 16 weeks from planning to completion.

This significantly reduces the 12- to 18-month timeframe previously experienced by telcos in rolling out macro cells.

According to Nokia head of Oceania Ray Owen, the increasing demand from consumers for higher-capacity and higher-speed mobile connectivity is requiring more small cells to be deployed across the country.

"Operators must be able to optimise how they on-board individual sites more quickly, how they reduce costs, and how they respond to unique site requirements," Owen said.

"A coordinated approach to small cell site identification, design, and deployment, bringing together Nokia's technology in a modular approach with a broader industry engineering and services ecosystem, will be a significant benefit to operators bolstering their existing infrastructure and planning for the more ubiquitous network fabric that will be required with 5G."

Small cells are being used by carriers globally to increase the density of their metro networks, provide data and voice coverage for regional areas where it is not economically viable to build full mobile base stations, and as a precursor to 5G.

Nokia acquired Australian compact radio frequency filter maker Mesaplexx back in 2014 for the purpose of making Nokia's radio equipment lighter and more efficient, and up to 30 percent smaller.

Nokia last year worked with Singaporean telecommunications provider M1 to commercially launch a nationwide "heterogeneous network" (HetNet) using small cells in an effort to improve download speeds towards 1Gbps ahead of 5G.

In February, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri also announced that the company had won a three-year deal with Telefonica to improve its 4G network in London by using Nokia's 4.5G Pro kit, which comprises its small cells, Radio Access portfolio, NetAct network management system, Traffica real-time network analytics, and Nokia Global Services.

Australian telcos Optus and Telstra have also been deploying the infrastructure as part of their obligations under the federal government's mobile blackspot program.

Under round one of the program, Telstra will deploy 135 small cells using its own funding, while Optus will be providing 49 small cells under round two.

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