Nokia Tackles Wi-Fi Dead Zones With Smart Mesh System
BARCELONA—For Nokia Networks, this year’s Mobile World Congress is all about extending connectivity everywhere. The data networking and telecommunications provider has rolled out a slew of new coverage and Wi-Fi solutions for smart cities, and today announced a new smart mesh solution for in-home Wi-Fi.
Nokia supplies service providers with a variety of networking hardware and software, which now includes Wi-Fi mesh support for residential devices and gateways. The expanded in-home Wi-Fi solution also gives operators a white-label online portal and mobile app to resolve user Wi-Fi issues, and extends some of its smart networking capabilities with self-learning, self-healing software to automatically optimize Wi-Fi networks in a home.
“This is intelligent mesh for whole-home Wi-Fi that’s aimed specifically at bringing high-capacity Wi-Fi to every room,” said Phil Twist, Nokia’s Head of Mobile Networks Marketing and Communications. “It’s adept at handling disruptions within a home. There are embedded analytics to adapt for consistent optimal performance. So if you switch on a microwave that creates an interference field, it can adapt to work around it.”
Twist said the solution is designed for service providers with customers who complain about supbar Wi-Fi in their homes—even as they roll out brand new gigabit networks. The in-home mesh provides interference detection, expanded gateway support, and algorithms that automate band and channel steering for better performing in-home coverage with roaming capabilities.
The Wi-Fi Care Portal and mobile app go further, giving customers a heat map of their in-home coverage to identify Wi-Fi dead zones. The app also makes it easier to manage devices and create guest networks. The portals are also an upsell opportunity, of course, allowing operators to offer services like additional beacons or broadband capacity within the experience.
Planning for 5G: Nokia’s Future X Network
Nokia also pulled back the curtain on its 5G plans, particularly around its Future X network architecture.
Future X combines a new high-capacity 5G radio Nokia is testing with Qualcomm with its new AI-enabled ReefShark 5G chipset. This “massive-scale access” architecture merges AirScale radio access, small cells, fiber, DSL, cable, and wireless with a shared cloud data layer, “anyhaul” transport for commercial 5G networking, and more.
According to Twist, the ReefShark chip is a key component of the architecture that delivers concentrated power for radio frequency and baseband processing in high-performance 5G networks. Nokia is “pushing the limits of silicon technology,” he said, with cutting-edge 10 nanometer commercial chip architecture developed in-house.
Future X architecture and ReefShark chipsets triple the throughput of Nokia’s existing radio access network (RAN), while the network’s machine learning-driven automation delivers savings of up to 30 percent, according to the company. Given the push for 5G in markets around the world, Nokia is targeting deployment by late 2018-early 2019, Twist said.
“We have products in place to be supporting commercial 5G toward the back end of 2018. Particularly with the US market driving very hard for early 5G deployment, I think there will be investments in networks in the second half of this year and no shortage of commercial applications next year,” said Twist. “We’re pleased to see the US and other key markets like China, Japan, and South Korea are [working] very hard to make 5G a commercial reality.”
There’s already a test variant of Future X up-and-running in labs, Twist said, and the architecture will be available “toward the back end of this year” for trial networks.