The future of mobile networks, according to Nokia's Ray Owen
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Pat Pilcher caught up with Ray Owen, the new head of ANZ for Nokia to chat about the future of mobile networks.
PP: Nokia and Vodafone have been working with the Police in New Zealand, what has this involved and what are the benefits likely to before the police and ultimately us taxpayers?
RO: The New Zealand Police needed a secure communications network it could rely on to showcase and test its application development at The Mobility Innovation Lab and Experience Centre. As Nokia Networks is a world leader in delivering mobile broadband solutions, it has provided a fully functioning LTE network based on the Radio Application Cloud Server (RACS) platform for The Mobility Innovation Lab and Experience Centre. This will deliver a secure, isolated network for NZ Police and Vodafone.
The initiative provides a secure application test and development environment for the NZ Police and allows them to demonstrate their technology to the public and partners, as well as how future emergency services networks will evolve.
PP: Moving the police onto new tech along with the big productivity gains that entails is pretty exciting, but what new tech can we expect to see over the next 4-5 years from you guys at Nokia? Is Voice over LTE on the cards?
RO: VoLTE is certainly on the cards and we are working on trials and commercial implementation across the globe. Nokia is the first to claim Network function virtualization (NFV) end-to-end voice over LTE (VoLTE) services earlier this year and has also been working with Asian operators on commercial services. Nokia demonstrated a live VoLTE call during our joint marketing event in June in Auckland and we are currently trialing the technology with Vodafone.
PP: What will be the big benefits to customers of Voice over LTE?
RO: VoLTE allows high-definition (HD) voice calls to be made over an LTE network, and has many advantages for operators and users; HD voice quality, faster call setup times and better handovers, one all-IP network for all services, as well as improved performance under load. In addition, the overall data consumption and signaling load are lower compared to over-the-top voice applications.
With VoLTE, Vodafone’s customers can look forward to richer communication services and high-definition voice calls with higher quality than regular voice applications. Call setup times are significantly faster and the caller can rely on voice continuity with no dropped calls.
PP: What about benefits for carriers such as Vodafone?
RO: Vodafone is unique as it has already launched HD voice, and it was a tremendous success with its customers. This demonstrates that the mobile user in New Zealand appreciates the level of services Vodafone is committed to providing and VoLTE will only take it to the next level. As a leader in mobile and specifically in 4G data, Vodafone customers will experience HD Voice quality better than before, as there will be no handovers to 3G and a reduced call setup time. Simply put, VoLTE is easier to scale, more cost effective and gives the flexibility to hand traffic loads dynamically.
PP: What do you see as being the big technology that could or has transformed mobile networks?
RO: Nokia believes 5G plays an important role with the Internet of things as explained below (refer to question below). Apart from that, Nokia believes Telco Cloud and SDN are re-defining networks today and will continue to do so for the coming years.
Nokia already has trials in place where it has demonstrated use of network function virtualization and has partnerships in the industry with the likes of Juniper, HP, etc. Nokia has already started talking about Radio virtualization, in fact “Network in a box” is an example of how networks will evolve and benefit end users. Bringing content closer to the edge drives performance and improves user experience.
PP: I saw that Nokia recently released network in a box technologies – what exactly is it?
RO: This “LTE Network in a Box” can assist with the communications required for an emergency response, by delivering mobile coverage anywhere without the limitation of backhaul transmission. This goes hand in hand with the police innovation lab initiative that has recently been announced by Vodafone. The solution can be integrated into a mobile police command center to ensure dedicated high bandwidth LTE is available to support rich communication features such as the BeOn (VMCC) solution from Harris Technologies.
PP: Any thoughts on 5G?
RO: We know that, along with virtually every person on the planet, billions of things will also be connected – to us, or to each other – by 2020. What is more surprising is that our research predicts that only half of those will be ‘phones, laptops, tablets and other traditional access devices. The other half will be devices and sensors in a huge number of areas including health monitoring, field operations devices, power generation and smart meters, automotive, recreation and so on. This makes the Internet of things the biggest thing since…well, since the internet.
Networks will use this growth opportunity to become a significant player in enabling the programmable world. What distinguishes the programmable world from the internet of things concept is the intelligence that is added to data to allow people to interpret and use it, rather than just capture it. By capitalising on Nokia Networks’ mobile network knowledge and strong relationship with operators, HERE’s expertise in connected cars, and relationships with OEMs, and Nokia Technologies’ insights and innovation in sensors, Nokia is strongly placed to lead in adding value to the internet of things, both for companies and for consumers.
PP: What about WiFi? How can that benefit telcos and ultimately us consumers?
RO: Nokia also intends to continue to lead in the radio business and bringing innovation in the market from products such as Liquid Applications, LTE Broadcast and VoLTE. VoLTE is a reality and Nokia is currently part of 9/10 key deployments around the world. This includes a trial that is being conducted in Vodafone New Zealand.
The Public Safety community has long called for advancements in their legacy systems. Nokia is involved in making this a reality for the community with a partnership with Harris Technologies. There have been trials in the US with the Super Bowl and now we are bringing these partnerships to the region. We believe, this is a major advancement in the industry as we bring interoperable mobile broadband to emergency responders for the first time.
Nokia Networks has also built a fully functioning secure, private LTE network for the Mobility Innovation Lab and Experience Centre so the police can demonstrate their latest technological innovations.
Finally, Liquid Application is another one of Nokia’s unique innovations in the market; today we are working on delivering content from the user edge. RACS is a reality today and is under trials with our customers already. Video Orchestration has been an extremely successful part of these trials and we intend to demonstrate some of these in the coming ones with our partners here in ANZ.