Vendors are anxious to secure spots on the top of the 5G ladder by signing 5G research and partnership deals with as many mobile operators around the globe as possible. The latest deal comes from Nokia, which will collaborate with BT on 5G proof-of-concept trials.
Specifically, Nokia says the trials will focus on technologies like millimeter wave radio and will include both radio equipment and broadband technologies that will build upon Nokia’s existing deal with BT. The vendor supplies BT with a core routing platform and provides BT and its mobile division, EE, with subscriber-register infrastructure and some of the radio access network.
At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a software element to these trials; however, both Nokia and BT have highlighted that the biggest potential of 5G is its ability to improve network flexibility and meet customers’ specific needs. Achieving that flexibility will likely not come from the network’s hardware but from the software — which will likely enable operators to carve out sections of the network for specific use cases and business models.
5G Research Deals
BT is just the latest mobile operator to join Nokia’s 5G trial roster. The company also has announced similar 5G research collaborations with AT&T, MTS, SK Telecom, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Taiwan Mobile, Turk Telecom, Verizon, and Vodafone.
Nokia competitor Ericsson has also been on a 5G collaboration kick. The company started inking 5G collaboration deals with operators last year and now has a list that includes AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KPN, MTS, NTT DoCoMo, Singtel, SK Telecom, Softbank, Sprint, T-Mobile US, TeliaSonera, Verizon, and Vodafone.
But what do all these research collaborations and trials really mean for vendors? Although its nice to show the depth and breadth of a vendor’s 5G reach with global operators, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this will lead to a 5G infrastructure contract.
However, those involved in these trials and collaborations all say that these types of relationships are necessary stepping stones in developing the 5G vision and help with formulating 5G standards.