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MWC 24: Nokia, Intel team to boost industrial, enterprise private 5G

Nokia and Intel collaborate on compact solution using virtualised open baseband technology and industrial digitisation platform to optimise efficiency and cost of 5G connectivity at small industrial facilities

As businesses in the industrial sector continue to upgrade their comms infrastructures to progress their digital transformation plans, there’s a danger that small-scale developments are not being suitably addressed by technological solutions.

To resolve this, Nokia has announced a collaboration with Intel to enable running virtual baseband capabilities on its Digital Automation Cloud (DAC), in a bid to offer more accessible private wireless solutions for small enterprise sites.

Nokia and Intel are confident that their partnership will effectively deliver high-performance, cost-efficient private 5G networks to more industrial sites. The two firms said that the solution’s enterprise edge RAN capabilities are designed to ensure that small-scale industrial deployments will have access to more compact 5G private wireless solution and a solution that reduces cabling and installation requirements.

Nokia believes that as enterprises implement a growing number of Industry 4.0 use cases, such as autonomous robots in a factory or warehouse leveraging real-time situational awareness for safety, or zero-fault manufacturing using advanced real-time video analytics for efficiency, demand is growing for high-capacity, on-premise edge processing.

By using Enterprise Edge RAN in the DAC private wireless solutions, Nokia said that it will be able to further reduce the footprint of the DAC private wireless (PW) compact by running the baseband processing function as an application on its on-prem MX industrial edge (MXIE) powered by Intel’s 5G enabling technologies, including 4th gen Xeon processors with vRAN Boost and FlexRAN software.

An integral part of Nokia’s private network solutions, MXIE is said to be able to bring to small enterprise customers access to a large catalogue of digitalisation enablers from leading third parties in the operation technology domain. In addition, MXIE is said to be able to allow firms to accelerate their digital transformation beyond connectivity and support operational technology data applications and workloads.

With the new solution, the tech firms are confident that enterprise customers can tap access a range of third-party industrial applications as well as Nokia’s own DAC Wi-Fi, which allows Wi-Fi and 5G to operate together in industrial premises. Customers can use the MX Boost system to aggregate Wi-Fi and 5G together for enhanced performance and reliability, and the newly launched MX Workmate and Nokia Team Comms, both supporting connected workers.

Enterprise Edge RAN is claimed to enable end customers to maintain access to wide spectrum band support and efficient radio resource utilisation while getting the benefits of a distributed radio base transceiver station architecture.

With private wireless networks often needing to tap into less common spectrum bands and more 5G bands being specified by 3GPP, Nokia said that the virtual RAN architecture offers more options and will integrate Open RAN-capable third-party radio units to further increase the DAC PW solutions’ global reach.

As sites grow and more use cases are added, Nokia assured that enterprises will be able to add more radios and/or more capacity by complementing the solution with a high-capacity discrete baseband unit, such as AirScale.

“We are very excited to bring high performance private wireless to even more industrial sites,” said Stephan Litjens, vice-president of enterprise campus edge solutions at Nokia. “By virtualising the radio baseband processing, we are increasing resource utilisation of the MX Industrial Edge and ensuring small scale deployments have access to our high-performance, highly reliable 5G private wireless connectivity solutions.”

Dan Rodriguez, corporate vice-president and general manager network and edge solutions at Intel, added: “Introducing 5G capabilities into Nokia’s DAC solution opens opportunities for businesses across a wide range of industries. With solutions like this, 5G connectivity can be more widely utilised in small deployments to help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation.”

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