MWC 2019: Nokia CEO says 5G is here and we have the right strategy

Nokia has announced new Massive MIMO products, trials with KT for network slicing, and its FastMile 5G Gateway with Optus.

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri has kicked off Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona by saying 5G is here, and the networking giant is confident it has "the right strategy at the right time".

"It has been a mad rush and at times it feels a bit like the wheels might come off the industry wagon ... but as the year progresses, things will feel less rickety," Suri said at the Nokia keynote on Sunday afternoon.

"After the initial rush, things will stabilise."

Nokia has more than 3.8 million 5G radio products in the market already, the chief executive said, including with AT&T, KT, Optus, T-Mobile, Vodafone, SK Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, Telia, TIM San Marino, and Rain.

"As of today, we're approaching 100 5G trials ... with more coming even this week," he said.

"We are remarkably well positioned."

Nokia has a four-pronged strategy, according to Suri: Leading in high-performance end-to-end networks with operators; expanding into select enterprise markets; building a strong stand-alone software business; and creating licensing opportunities in both the enterprise and consumer ecosystems.

Suri said Nokia has products across five different 5G segments: Radio, including IP and optical; last-mile connectivity with Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) and fixed-wireless connectivity; millimetre-wave (mmWave) capabilities with edge cloud; network-agnostic software and slicing; and enterprise LAN, the last of which he said should be worth 15 billion euros by 2025.

Nokia announced two new Massive MIMO products at MWC: The liquid-cooled Nokia 5G AirScale Massive MIMO adaptive antenna, and the Massive MIMO scheduler, with Vodafone to be first mobile operator in Europe to use this equipment.

One of Nokia's 5G fixed-wireless customers is Optus, with the two announcing the world's first commercial service based on 3GPP standards. The FastMile 5G Gateway being used by the companies on Optus' network provides 5G connection speeds of up to 1Gbps, Suri said.

Nokia has further signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with KT across 5G network slicing, Suri announced on Sunday, while Komatsu has signed on to be a customer of Nokia's enterprise LAN offerings.

Suri additionally made five predictions about 5G: Security will become non-negotiable; operators will start to make "real money" from 5G enterprise services; 5G will enable historical productivity growth; 5G will continue growing for up to a decade; and lastly, "I will not come here next year and tell you how excited I am about 6G".

Bell Labs is already looking into 6G, he conceded, but said the world first needs to explore all facets of 5G.

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