Finnish Telecom gear manufacturer Nokia Said said it is ready to jointly develop private networks with Indian enterprises, even if it continues to sell its technology to partners with telecom operators.
“… we have a strong relationship with our service providers, and we want to do sales through our service providers to sell connectivity and personal wireless types of solutions. But equally, if there are customers out there who want it Want to grow directly, it will also connect directly where it makes sense,” Ricky Corker, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Nokia told ET in an exclusive chat.
Corker said private networks are popping up globally through both the telco and enterprise avenues. “The reality is that globally we see a mix. So it really depends on the regulators how they want to allocate spectrum. What I would say is that we see both the models doing a pretty good job,” he said.
Germany, Finland, the UK, France, Sweden, Australia and Japan have decided to allocate an enterprise-specific spectrum. In India too, telecom regulator TRAI has recommended allowing private enterprises to set up 5G captive private networks with direct access to spectrum from the government.
A private network, intended for non-public use – especially for large manufacturing complexes and enterprises, uses cellular technologies to create a dedicated network with integrated connectivity along a specific geographic area.
However, Corker believes that telcos will use their existing relationships with enterprises to provide them with private connectivity among other services. “..it’s a natural extension for them to expand into personal networking opportunities.”
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The senior executive, who was recently in India, said that Nokia has decided to increase investment in personal wireless as it sees a “huge opportunity” in the space.
“…the fact that many other companies are also looking at this space shows that the opportunity is huge.”
Nokia said manufacturing, ports and mining are going to be the big verticals that will demand private networks.
The telecom gear maker is also looking at bringing together a complete ecosystem to serve the vertical industries. “… because you need broader expertise than just connectivity.”
The executive said that Nokia is already working with several global system integrators, including Indian companies such as Tech Mahindra. The company is also looking to partner with system integrators with “vertical expertise” and incorporate them into its ecosystem.
“… it’s a very broad opportunity for us because of our portfolio, private wireless is a part of that. So, having a consistent partner onboarding process, you get an idea of how Nokia works and our processes technology. And it is really important for us to train them and educate them about our portfolio,” he said.
Nokia also wants to work with startups as part of its ecosystem to help them build their applications using private networks.
“So we have a full program going on in Chennai right now. At Bangalore R&D center we have platform for startups which is also associated with Karnataka government,” he said.
India, according to a Nokia executive, sees a large percentage of existing private network deployments over 4G LTE due to a fully developed connectivity ecosystem around the technology. “From a latency perspective, in many cases, LTE works fine. So we shouldn’t think it’s just a 5G game. LTE will work for many applications. It’s perfectly acceptable.”
Corker said Nokia is starting to see the first signs of demand for 5G private networks due to some new enterprise use cases. However, he added that there is a device ecosystem that needs to be developed with Internet of Things (IoT) applications.