Nokia has introduced an indoor small cell that will support 5G, hoping to capitalise on operator and enterprise interest in private networks.

The femtocell supports LTE now, and will support 5G Non StandAlone (NSA) and 5G SA through software upgrade, Nokia said.

Called the Smart Node, the small cell will be available starting in the fourth quarter of 2021, and is meant for small-to-medium size businesses and residential customers.

Nokia is marketing the solution to both enterprises and carrier customers. For enterprise customers, the vendor promotes the femto as part of a mobile network that can offer “hack proof” security, without requiring IT managers to understand and install complex security solutions. The Smart Node security solutions include digital certificates, IPSec for encryption with IKEv2, and firewall and tamper alarms.

For network operators, a 5G femto can provide local breakout and reduce operating costs, according to Nokia.  Whereas an outdoor small cell near an enterprise will require power, backhaul and real estate, an indoor solution lets the enterprise itself cover these expenses. The downside, of course, is that indoor solutions typically support just one enterprise customer while outdoor small cells could support several.

Nokia said the new femtocell can support up to 32 LTE and 32 5G simultaneous active users per carrier, and is also ready to support NB-IoT and CAT-M so that customer can use it for IoT applications.