Nokia secures €500m loan for 5G R&D, demos Massive MIMO 5G with Sprint

Nokia has demonstrated 5G Massive MIMO technology with Sprint in the US, with the networking giant also securing €500 million in funding from the European Investment Bank to accelerate its 5G R&D.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Nokia has announced securing €500 million in funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support its research and development (R&D) of 5G technology, with the loan backed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

According to Nokia CFO Kristian Pullola, the EIB "shares our view of the revolutionary nature of 5G", and the loan will allow Nokia to continue its momentum in developing new networking technologies.

"5G is happening fast, faster than most people even expected. It's anticipated that it will enable entirely new business cases, while dramatically enhancing existing wireless applications," EIB VP Alexander Stubb said. "I think bringing 5G to the market will definitely improve people's lives."

With EFSI part of Europe's Juncker Plan, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said 5G will ensure the EU "embraces and benefits from new technologies requires sustained investment".

"I am delighted that, with today's agreement, the plan is contributing to Nokia's research and development activities across multiple European countries to advance the development of 5G technology," Katainen said.

The loan has a maturity of five years, and extends Nokia's debt maturity profile.

Nokia had in July published its financial results for the first half of 2018, revealing operating profit down 37 percent to €573 million on net sales of €10.2 billion, looking to 5G growth to improve its financials.

During the first half of the year, Nokia spent €1.8 billion on Networks R&D, with the company expecting commercial 5G network rollouts to kick off towards the end of this year.

"Results in 2018 and over the longer term are expected to be influenced by our ability to scale our supply chain operations to meet increasing demand; recovery actions to address increased price pressure; and the timing of completions and acceptances of certain projects, particularly related to 5G," the company said at the time.

Read also: T-Mobile, Ericsson sign $3.5 billion 5G agreement

Nokia has this week also announced working with Sprint to be the first to demonstrate a 5G New Radio (5G NR) connection using Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology across 2.5GHz spectrum ahead of a 5G deployment in the first half of next year.

Calling the technology "game changing", the companies used Nokia's commercial AirScale Base Station and Massive MIMO Active Antenna, and a 5G test device emulator to deliver peak downlink throughput of 3Gbps across 5G and LTE simultaneously.

"Sprint has long collaborated with Nokia on its Massive MIMO and 5G innovations ... because of our large spectrum holdings, Sprint is one of the only operators in the world with enough capacity to operate LTE and 5G simultaneously using Massive MIMO and huge licensed channels of 100MHz of spectrum on the same radios, " Sprint CTO Dr John Saw said.

Saw told ZDNet during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in February that his carrier has the best 5G spectrum, with Sprint choosing its initial six 5G markets of Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston due to their high traffic and its spectrum holdings. Sprint in May added New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City to its 5G rollout roadmap.

Read also: Sprint CTO at MWC: We have the best 5G spectrum

T-Mobile, which Sprint is aiming to merge with next year, earlier today announced a $3.5 billion deal with Nokia rival Ericsson to deliver its 5G networks.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told ZDNet during MWC that his carrier's 5G deployment across 30 cities this year -- Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas are to have the service by 2019 -- is "moving well", with the 600MHz LTE rollout beginning last year and much of the hardware being 5G NR capable.

Ookla claimed in a recent report that the T-Mobile merger with Sprint "could result in an unmatched network in the face of 5G".

Sprint is also working with LG on a 5G smartphone for the first half of 2019, and with Ericsson on building a virtualised core Internet of Things (IoT) network and operating system.

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