Nokia says it can upgrade from 4G to 5G using software change
Nokia announced today that it can upgrade its 4G LTE base stations to 5G using a software change.
The Finnish company says that this can be done for the radio access network (RAN) in a million base stations immediately, rising to 3.1 million by the end of 2020 and 5 million by the end of next year.
Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said: “We already provide market-leading LTE radios to hundreds of customers around the world. This is an important solution because it will help our customers, quickly and efficiently upgrade their existing LTE radios so that they are 5G-ready, saving them time and money.”
Nokia has timed its announcement well, picking a day when the UK, one of the markets for its major competitor, Huawei of China, is likely to be closed off.
The company said that, by upgrading existing radio elements via software, Nokia “is helping to streamline the process of refarming 4G/LTE spectrum into 5G/NR. The move will also support existing customers and the installed base by offering a seamless and cost-effective upgrade path to 5G/NR.”
Nokia said the upgrade can be applied to networks using frequency-division duplex (FDD) technology, the commoner technology for 4G. The alternative, time-division duplex (TDD), makes more efficient use of spectrum for some types of traffic.
Nokia said the ability to upgrade 4G/LTE radios via a software update will significantly smooth out the deployment of 5G/NR FDD, avoiding costly and disruptive site visits.
Nokia said it “has a vast customer base of 359 4G/LTE customers with deployed FDD RF units, most of which are possible to upgrade. This will provide a new and smoother way for operators to build 5G/NR coverage in lower bands via spectrum refarming. Nokia’s 4G/LTE radios are market leading and outperform all vendors according to independent testing.”