News: Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri hopes to get a 5G head start on competitors.
Nokia has set out ambitious plans to get to the top once again, and mobile phones are not the primary focus. A $350m investment fund, a security company acquisition and a 5G ready radio access product made for a trio of announcements, signalling the former mobile phone giant’s commitment to the future of IoT.
First on the roster of announcments was 5G, with Nokia expecting that the 5G technology will come faster than expected and much before the 2020 due date.
Speaking at MWC, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said: "2020 is probably when we’ll see global volume deployments, but we’ll probably start to see a lot of action, in an evolutionary way, ahead of 2020 — 2017, 2018, 2019.
"5G must happen fast because important IoT use cases demand it. If we know that 5G can help save lives, improve our environment, and make our lives better, we need to move faster, not slower."
"We are planning to dramatically increase our investment in 5G this year and unleash the power of our massive innovation engine."
In order to have an early advantage on 5G deployment, the company unveiled a 5G-ready AirScale radio access product to replace the Flexi base station.
Nokia AirScale is a cloud-based, carrier-grade Wi-Fi that claims to offer gigabit wireless with simpler deployment.
It comes with a cloud-based Controller that enables easy and quick deployment with automated configuration, monitoring and management of Wi-Fi access points. Another advantage of the solution is that it can be scaled to support more than 10,000 access points.
With AirScale, mobile operators can integrate Wi-Fi with their existing networks as well as run Wi-Fi service without licensed spectrum, to offer mobile like experience.
The solution can leverage mobile edge computing and analytics to offer context-based services.
Nokia Small Cells & Wi-Fi Solutions head Mark Atkinson said: "Nokia AirScale Wi-Fi expands on the existing components of our widely deployed Smart Wi-Fi solution, including the industry leading carrier-grade WLAN Gateway.
"Cloud-based Wi-Fi underlines our commitment to this prominent radio access technology, allowing operators to deliver a true cellular-like experience over Wi-Fi and ultimately to combine the best of Wi-Fi and LTE with the help of LWA."
Furthe big news came in the form of a $350m IoT investment fund through Nokia’s private venture firm, Nokia Growth Partners, to invest in IoT solutions.
The fund will look to invest in innovative companies offering IoT solutions, especially those companies working on Connected Enterprise, Consumer Solutions, Connected Car and Digital Health, as well as enabling technologies with a focus on capabilities in big data and analytics.
Suri said: "The $350 million Internet of Things investment fund, tasked with finding and funding the best entrepreneurs across the world, reflects our strong intent to be a leader in the technologies that connect people and things, while establishing successful partnerships for both Nokia and the investee companies."
NGP managing partner Bo Ilsoe said: "Connecting everything through IoT solutions is the next big technological wave and it will affect all aspects of our lives.
"We are excited to continue working closely with Nokia to build the ecosystem while increasing partnering and company success.
"With the new commitment from Nokia, NGP has more than USD 500 million of fresh capital to deploy behind the best entrepreneurs and teams out there."
Lastly, the company also announced plans to acquire Canadian software firm Nakina Systems, which is expected to help the company prevent threats from 5G networks, Internet of Things , Big Data, Software Defined Networks and Cloud services.
Nakina Systems offer security and orchestration software for virtual and hybrid networks and the company looks to address the demand for growing regulatory and legal requirements for network security.
Nokia Applications and Analytics president Bhaskar Gorti said: "The planned acquisition of Nakina is another example of the steps we are taking to build security and privacy into our networks from the beginning.
"As seventy percent of all security breaches originate from privileged insiders, Nakina gives us the ability to address a rapidly increasing threat for our customers."
Nakina Systems CEO Mary O’Neil said: "Nakina bridges the security and operational gaps between the promise of cloud networks and operational realities of running high performance heterogeneous networks.
"With this deal, our customers will benefit from Nokia’s scale, leading expertise and investment scope for software and applications."