Marc Bellini is CTO of the Canada Market team for Nokia.
Where is the Canadian wireless infrastructure capacity at and what are the consequences of that?
Bellini: Nokia Canada is a global leader in wireless infrastructure, and it’s set up to retain that position as the country transitions to 5G. Yet it’s not only the wireless radio element of the network that impacts customer experience, such as speed, capacity, security, reliability. The wireline network connecting the towers across the country and around the world also plays a key role, from fibre optics to data centres, from routing technology to management and security software.
Unlike many other countries, Canada’s underlying wired infrastructure is leading edge and ready to support the future of 5G. The biggest challenge facing Canada is bringing telecommunications services to small populations in remote areas, as this is very expensive. Whilst new and more efficient technologies and new spectrum bands will help, it will always be a question of who pays for more ubiquitous service: the end user, all users (cost sharing) or taxpayers.
Why do we need to keep pace with the rest of the world?
Bellini: Investments in 5G networks are vital to moving Canada’s economy forward – to increase the country’s GDP growth and to ensure that Canada can remain competitive. While 4G LTE is all about high-speed mobile broadband and access, 5G is about application diversity and new possibilities, leading to new business opportunities for operators, industries and enterprises.
5G is the first wireless technology with the high throughput, low latency and extreme reliability that can replace wireline connectivity in a factory. It will allow for entirely new use cases in industrial automation, collaboration and safety, not only for factories, but for mining, smart grids, logistics, etc.
For example, connectivity for billions of IoT devices will enable smart factories, where robots, sensors and remotely-located human operators work in synch, as well as health-care services, and vehicle platooning on a large scale for huge efficiency gains, such as road haulage.
And this is where the real innovation will be – business applications, what we like to call the ‘Industrial Internet.’ The digitalization of the enterprise and industry will provide revenue opportunities for operators and new players alike. As businesses create new applications for technology, this will encourage others to follow and attract businesses and highly skilled people to locate in Canada.
What’s the potential for industries in 5G?
Bellini: Next-generation technologies will drive productivity by levels of automation not possible in the past. The faster Canadian businesses can adopt, the more competitive they will be globally. Consider, for instance, the opportunities of reliable automation on factory floors. 5G offers new heights in productivity by making factories mobile. One of the most important enablers of the smart factory will be vastly increased connectivity that will link machines, processes, robots and people to create more versatile and more dynamic production capabilities.
In modern factories, walls, roofs and the factory floor are the only fixed components. The rest is mobile, with flexible, movable plug-and-play capabilities enabling additional machines and the plant to be connected via wireless connectivity.
How is Nokia responding to this?
Bellini: The first phase of 5G is well underway with operators. Nokia is working with them to smoothly transition from 4G and help redesign the network architecture for 5G and virtualized services. As a world leader in helping customers prepare for 5G – whatever phase they’re in – Nokia has market leading momentum in 5G with 48 commercial agreements, 10 live 5G networks that it’s powering worldwide, and many more discussions and trials underway, including in Canada.
Nokia’s value proposition is delivering its 5G Future X end-to-end product and services portfolio, which covers it all – combining all elements of connectivity, software and services to provide a complete set of network capabilities for commercial 5G. This is important because 5G impacts the full network and architecture. Nokia is also creating the framework, partnerships and use cases for 5G applications in: industry, energy, utilities, mining, transportation, seaports, smart cities and public safety; and will continue to develop solutions and the path to get to greater productivity.
Discussions and trials are underway around the world involving, for example, 5G on the factory floor, autonomous mining operations, seaport logistics and public safety.
What’s the company’s share of the Canadian market and what is its potential?
Bellini: Nokia is one of the top research and development investors in Canada and a major supplier of wireless and wireline infrastructure. Although we don’t disclose market share by country, we are a leader in wireless (4G and emerging 5G); IP routing; optical networks; broadband access networks; services and software.
As Canada evolves to 5G, Nokia is well positioned to help by providing the broadest 5G product and services portfolio to work with Canada’s operators, as well as with its industries, businesses and government to realize the full potential of 5G.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.