Nokia is adding to its private network products with a new public safety and power grid focused system that will be available later this year.

These systems are designed to support 100,000 to 500,000 voice endpoints – rather than several million voice endpoints – for public safety organizations. For power grids, the system is expected to underpin 3 to 5 million IoT endpoints, connecting smart meters to the back-end office.   

Nokia is shrinking down the full core feature set to support somewhat fewer connections and reduce the total cost of ownership. 

“Usually we’re talking between one month and six months [to] install. This particular type of audience is not that concerned with the installation time,” Bryan Davies, marketing director at Nokia Software, told Silverlinings. “They actually have a buying cycle that’s actually longer than carriers. It’s on the order of 5 to 10 years.”

These customers first have a proof-of-concept before they install a system and test it, Davies continued. “Obviously you have to be extremely careful in the public safety space,” he said.

So, how much of this is actually a cloudified architecture? “The core itself is 100 percent CNFs,” Davies commented, referencing cloud network functions.

“That’s usually running on Nokia Container Services, which is a Kubernetes cloud-as-a-service platform, and that’s sitting on top of HPE hardware,” Davies continued. “We also support [Red Hat’s] OpenShift as well.”

At the moment, this initial private network product is a 4G core using Nokia products, Davies said. Nokia is planning to move to a 5G blueprint after the initial release.

Bespoke rivals 

Nokia said that its major rival in the private wireless space is, naturally, Ericsson. Davies noted that Nokia has around 500 to 700 private wireless customers at the moment. He said that many of the systems Nokia is attempting to displace are built by small companies that have developed bespoke Tetra systems, or similar, for public safety applications.

He added that the company has approximately “six contracts” for the new system, although they are using the “full-sized carrier core” as of now. These include 450 Connect in Germany in the power sector and the New South Wales Public Safety Mobile Broadband organization in Australia, which is developing a system to combat bush fires.  

Davies said that, in general, for the public safety space, Nokia would be expecting one customer per country. Whereas, in the distributed power grid sector, it is targeting two or three per country.

“We’re talking in the low hundreds in terms of total customer targets,” Davies concluded.

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