The president and CEO of Nokia, Pekka Lundmark, gave a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress 2021 in which he spoke of 5G wireless communications, critical networks and what the post-COVID future holds. In a written version released by Nokia, Lundmark said that in the first two months of 2021, Nokia announced a stream of new deals with its traditional customer base of telcos, others with webscales, government agencies, commercial ports, transport hubs and other partners.
“Our work with this diverse and global base of customers has shown us what businesses of all types want from their connectivity in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. Increasingly, they are looking for three key characteristics,” Lundmark said.
The Nokia executive said the company’s customers first want carrier-grade performance that can transport and process vast amounts of data quickly and with six-nine (99.9999 percent) reliability. Customers want connectivity that can provide wired levels of performance and resilience wirelessly.
He said that, second, customers want connectivity with the elasticity, flexibility and self-definition that is normally associated with webscales. “It must adapt, evolve and maintain peak performance no matter what demands are placed on it,” he said.
The third, and a crucial, aspect he said customers want is critical networks that can underpin their most important functions.
Elaborating on critical networks, Lundmark said it is an important point. He said that for consumers, a network outage could be annoying. However, for industry, it can be deadly, as safety programs lag or autonomous robots can no longer track nearby people. He said the threat of network outages is one of the main reasons why mission-critical industries such as railways and mines often choose to build their own private networks.
“Until recently, industries only had access to licensed narrowband spectrum and, as a result, they could only deploy voice and low-speed data on their private networks,” Lundmark said. “But with private and public 5G, industries can support a whole host of new applications and use cases.”
Some of these use cases are wide-area, such as connected fleets of trains, while some are hyper-local, such as specific factories or solar arrays,” Lundmark said. He said the fusion of big capacity with specific needs is the future. “We are back to big small tech,” he said.
Calling the advance exciting, Lundmark said it nevertheless could seem to be abstract. To reveal a clearer idea of the potential the future connectivity holds, he referred to statistics Nokia has seen from early use cases.
“Our partners saw unanticipated breakdowns and production line defects drop by 30 percent after installing smart video sensors in our manufacturing deployments,” Lundmark said. “In the logistics sector, deploying augmented reality devices cut machine-monitoring costs by half. In ports, remote-controlled cranes doubled productivity and eliminated staff injuries — an incredible 100 percent drop. Remember, we are still early in the cycle of digitalization. So as positive as these early results are, we can realistically expect them to get even better as 5G beds in.”
A Nokia Bell Labs paper, ‘Industrial IoT networks: how 5G is transforming industry verticals’, explains how 5G can replace wired Ethernet in standard industrial control protocols, support real-time service alteration, enable private edge cloud, power machine learning and analytics, and unlock widespread deep slicing. According to Lundmark, all of these have huge, positive implications for capex, opex, productivity, and sustainability and worker safety.
“It will take work and time,” he said. “But there is a huge appetite for change and improvement across business, enterprise and industry. We predict that every dollar of investment in network and cloud infrastructure will provide more than four dollars of end-user value creation. The result is we are looking at an economic gain of up to 7 percent of global GDP, or $8 trillion, by 2030. Elsewhere, if the gain is that high in economic terms, imagine what it means for productivity, equality or sustainability.”
According to Lundmark, “the technology is a game-changer. It allows us to look to the future with optimism, in the knowledge that connectivity will make people safer, communities more prosperous and businesses more innovative. A future of big small tech awaits us. I am proud that Nokia is making it a reality.”