Nokia offered a rare behind-the-scenes look at its current, and future, home of radio in the Finnish city of Oulu, facilities which are at the forefront of its continued development of 5G and will lead the charge towards 6G.
Jarkko Pyykkonen, Oulu site head, explained a key benefit of its facility is being able to develop radio software and hardware under one roof, resulting in the bulk of Nokia’s 5G Massive MIMO platform products being created at the site.
He noted the facility also houses Nokia’s over-the-air validation area, one of the mobile network vendor’s biggest R&D laboratories, where it evaluates wireless signal performance using a variety of walls peppered with antennas to simulate various real-world scenarios, for example connecting a user on a fast-moving train.
Pyykkonen (pictured) argued calling Oulu the home of radio is not an empty brag.
Nokia established a presence in the city 50 years ago, meaning it has led the vendor’s work on all mobile generations from 1G onwards: “Oulu is the only location where research, R&D, testing, supply chain and manufacturing are under the same roof”, a set-up he argued is likely unique among its competitors.
The site delivers “about 150 patent applications every year” and is well positioned in terms of accessing fresh talent from the University of Oulu along with “more than 1,000 companies, more than 20,000” experts from the broader ICT sector.
Nokia employs its own private 5G network at its current factory in Oulu, which Pyykkonen explained focuses more on advancing R&D by producing its latest innovations rather than concentrating on volume production.
While the facility is impressive, Nokia is already working on its replacement, an all-in-one premise close to the University of Oulu which will boost the capacity of its current factory while helping it meet its environmental targets by using smart technologies to ensure zero CO2 emissions.
Nokia describes what will become its new home of radio as one of the world’s first “multi-energy optimised ICT” campuses, with a plan to employ wasted heat it said would be enough to warm 20,000 homes per annum.
The new facility is due to be completed in 2025 and will be entirely self-powered, using a combination of heat pumps, hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and more to ensure it does not rely on Finland’s national electrical grid.
It also allows Nokia to custom design its factory and testing facilities, with its new production plant set to be around the size of five football fields and optimised to enable the vendor to use the very latest equipment.