Nokia announces 5G 'standalone' network deployments for enterprises

The commercial deployments will help enterprises that want private networks for the most demanding 5G use cases.

Nokia on Tuesday announced the commercial availability of new 5G "standalone" private wireless networking solutions for the enterprise. Unlike non-standalone 5G, the standalone version of 5G networking doesn't rely on existing 4G infrastructure -- meaning enterprises should be able to use it to take full advantage of 5G's potential for enabling low-latency, high-capacity services.  

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Nokia's commercial rollout will serve enterprise customers that need 5G standalone (5G SA) to support the most demanding 5G use cases, in industries like automotive and mining. "It also helps build a healthy ecosystem of 5G-connected industrial assets that all customers will have at their disposal," Stephane Daeuble, head of enterprise solutions marketing at Nokia, explained to ZDNet.

The two versions of 5G -- standalone and non-standalone -- were defined by the global mobile communications standards organization 3GPP a few years ago. The non-standalone version (5G NSA) enables operators like AT&T to simply add 5G radio to their LTE core network to offer 5G services without a massive infrastructure overhaul. With NSA, the downlink runs on 5G, but the uplink runs on LTE. 

Mobile operators around the world today are deploying 5G NSA networks, but they will move toward 5G SA, Daeuble said. 

"In the enterprise, you can imagine the core network is smaller, so 5G SA offers a better option," Daeuble said. "They might as well start with 5G SA and get all the 5G goodness from the beginning."

Customers can deploy a 5G SA private wireless network with either the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud platform or the Nokia Modular Private Wireless solution. The Digital Automation Cloud platform is an effectively a plug-and-play solution -- customers deploy a compact server on-site with the application platform built-in. Modular Private Wireless offers more room for network customization. 

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Nokia already has more than 180 private wireless enterprise customers worldwide, with more than 30 commercial 5G engagements with companies like Lufthansa Technik and Toyota Production Engineering. The market potential is huge, Daeuble said, with around 14 million industrial sites that could be connected. 

One customer that will deploy Nokia's new 5G SA private wireless network is Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, a Finnish company that produces mining equipment. The firm will deploy the network on the Digital Automation Cloud at its Tampere-based test mine to enhance communications and connectivity. 

They'll be able to validate and test remote-controlled machines and equipment, building the next generation of 5G-connected mining equipment. The deal illustrates how Nokia is aiming to build out a larger 5G ecosystem with its 5G SA commercial deployments. 

In addition to announcing its 5G SA commercial solutions, Nokia on Tuesday announced enhancements to its 4.9G/LTE portfolio. The company is launching the first-ever Band 87 (410 MHz) radio, expanding coverage potential for nationwide private wireless across critical IoT CSP, public safety, transport, and utilities. Nokia is also offering extended support for 4.9G/LTE network slicing on private wireless solutions.