Nokia WING chief says it’s not too early to add 5G and edge capabilities for IoT
Nokia launched WING, its Worldwide IoT Network Grid, in 2017 to provide organisations with a single global supplier of connectivity, edge and other resources with the aim of accelerating and simplifying global deployments for communications service providers (CSPs) and their enterprise customers. George Malim recently spoke to Ankur Bhan, the head of the Nokia WING business, to catch up on the unit’s progress.
George Malim: What have you added to WING?
Ankur Bhan: When we launched, our focus was to enable and accelerate IoT across multiple industries and use cases. The idea is to simplify IoT especially for enterprises with global deployment requirements. We’ve been executing on that and making progress enabling organisations in different geographies.
Our latest announcement is the upgrading of WING infrastructure to support 5G services. Previously, the offering supported 2G, 3G, 4G, narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M. We’ve now expanded the services portfolio to include 5G services as well.
With regard to 5G as a transformational technology in terms of high bandwidth, low latency and the ability to support a massive number of connections, it provides a step change in terms of what CSPs can offer to enterprises. We offer a pay-as-you-grow model on a subscription basis which helps in the take-up of these technologies.
GM: Why 5G? Isn’t it a bit too early for there to be attractive global use cases?
AB: Whilst we’re in the early phase of 5G, we already see interest from enterprises. In automotive, for example, the major companies are looking at adoption of 5G in relation to autonomous driving.
Industrial enterprises are automating factory operations but also looking at 5G in conjunction with edge capabilities.
Yes, we are early but that’s where we want to be. We want to lead the industry and take away one of the barriers which, for us, is to upgrade the core, platforms and service model.
GM: Which use cases do you expect CSPs to adopt earliest?
AB: There’s interest on multiple levels and we also see the rise of augmented and virtual reality for preventative maintenance. We see video as a sensor-based solution with camera recognition being utilised in smart cites and more broadly in enterprise contexts.
In addition, there’s a lot of interest from enterprises to have network slicing. 5G allows that network slicing and control and we’re using WING’s distributed infrastructure not just on operating in a particular geography with a network slice but doing it across multiple geographies and networks with a single slice. WING can enable consistent service level agreements (SLAs) and a consistent slice globally.
GM: I’ve seen your recent announcement with Telecom Argentina which is using WING to provide IoT services to enterprises across Latin America. Do CSPs now get the WING concept?
AB: Yes they do but, of course, awareness can always be better. WE have really strong uptake of WING across key markets in North America and Asia-Pacific. The global aspect is quite unique. CSPs use WING for domestic opportunities but also to give them opportunities to go beyond local boundaries to be regional or global leaders.
GM: How do you see WING developing further?
AB: We’ve just announced 5G capabilities and also edge capability. 5G and edge go hand-in-hand because when you are trying to have the power of 5G, the use case quite often requires low latency service and that’s where edge computing comes in. The edge connectivity we offer is of great benefit and it could be an aggregated edge or edge at a factory site to help keep the data local. This goes beyond the latency requirement and addresses data sovereignty and privacy.
We offer edge as a value-added service but also WING apps. These are pre-packaged apps and we’ve seen strong uptake of these.
We’ve added smart agriculture, asset management and logistics use cases to not only help operators offer connectivity management services but apps to help together with the operator’s connectivity so they can take a selected vertical proposition to market. This gives high average revenue per user (ARPU) and enables them to move up the IoT value chain.
In general, in the last two years, we’re outperforming the market. Our growth is robust and we do believe WING will be the leading platform for connectivity management in future. We support multiple technologies and we’re confident we’re executing on the original vision of simplifying IoT for operators and enterprises by enabling it globally.