Nokia today announced the availability of a software based upgrade that will enable mobile operators to migrate their 4G LTE radios to 5G/NR.
These features will have a high value to Nokia’s customers as they provide support for approximately one million radios, reaching 3.1 million by the end of the year and over 5 million in 2021, Tommi Uitto, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said.
Finland-based Nokia aims to assist its mobile operator clients to streamline the process of refarming 4G/LTE spectrum into 5G/NR by upgrading existing radio elements via software. The move will also support existing customers and the installed base by offering a seamless and cost-effective upgrade path to 5G/NR.
Most of the 5G/NR deployments to date have been performed with TDD cmWave and TDD mmWave deployment but the next big wave of 5G/NR rollouts will be delivered by refarming existing FDD bands to 5G/NR.
The ability to upgrade 4G/LTE radios via a software update will significantly smooth out the deployment of 5G/NR FDD, avoiding costly and disruptive site visits. Nokia has 359 4G / LTE customers with deployed FDD RF units. This will provide a smoother way for operators to build 5G/NR coverage in lower bands via spectrum refarming.
Nokia also has Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) in live networks covering 2G/GSM-3G/WCDMA-4G/LTE and recently introduced DSS for 4G/LTE-5G/NR. This capability completes a DSS solution, covering all access technologies and making the radio frequency refarming to 5G/NR a simple and efficient process.
Nokia estimates that this solution will save the telecommunications industry potentially tens of billions of euros in site engineering and re-visit costs as communication service providers are able to upgrade their networks to 5G/NR on FDD with software.
Chris Nicoll, principal analyst at ACG Research, said: Nokia’s Flexi and AirScale portfolio shows it is ahead of the game by providing a software upgrade to transition over 5 million 4G radios to 5G. Efficient FDD spectrum refarming is critical for fast, broad and deep 5G deployments.”