Nokia announced plans to broaden “its focus into multiple areas of early 5G mobility use cases”, in response to growing interest in the technology from operators in the US, China, Japan and South Korea and expectations of a 2019 global deployment.
The Finnish vendor said in a statement the move builds on 5G First, its so-called end-to-end bundle launched at Mobile World Congress this year aimed at operators which are keen to test and trial the technology.
Nokia said there was “clear interest for 5G mobility applications”, including enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency communications, and it would now “push for accelerated 3GPP industry standardisation”.
The company added the “market appetite points to meaningful rollouts in 2019”, and it further called on governments and regulators to free up and enable the use of spectrum at low-, mid- and high-frequency bands for 5G.
Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said evolving the company’s 5G strategy to “drive the industry rapidly towards adoption of standards-based applications” would require “broad cross-industry support”.
The announcement comes a week after CEO Rajeev Suri said in the company’s Q2 earnings call that 5G was accelerating much faster than anticipated.
He suggested the rapid development could create some near term risks for the company, with the timing of certain project completions now uncertain.
“Our original expectation was that 5G would only really take off in the 2020 to 2021 time period, that is now changing, as we see some lead customers [in] both the US and China preparing to move earlier, and that should drive others to respond,” he said.
As part of the push, the company will continue to “evolve and expand” 5G First via both mobility and fixed applications, as well as testing multiple use cases.
Nokia explained “industry interest” in 5G from markets “like the US, China, Japan and South Korea” had led to the move, but notably there was no mention of Europe.
Although operators, governments and industry bodies across the continent have spoken repeatedly of their ambitions to emerge as a 5G leader, Nokia did not highlight Europe as a market where there is “clear interest for 5G mobility applications”.
Nokia’s omission follows comments made by CTO Hossein Moiin, who said in a briefing in June he was not optimistic about the continent’s 5G prospects. He warned Europe will be left behind unless there were changes at regulatory level.