Nokia's top executive says that the company will soon release a key 5G part

Nokia's top executive says that the company will soon release a key 5G part
While Nokia no longer makes smartphones and merely licenses its still iconic name for use on handsets produced by HMD, the company remains heavily involved behind the scenes when it comes to wireless connectivity-including 5G connectivity. Today, FierceWireless reported on comments made by company CEO Pekka Lundmark during Nokia's conference call following the release of  2021 first quarter earnings. During the call, the executive said, "I can confirm that we have new radios coming to the market….both a new massive MIMO radio and also a new baseband."

Nokia's 5G Massive MIMO radio will soon be released

Massive MIMO is important when it comes to 5G. MIMO itself (multiple-input and multiple-output) allows a tower and a phone to send and receive multiple data signals over the same channel at the same time. Last May, we told you that Apple was being sued by an iPhone XR buyer because of the less advanced antenna system on that model compared to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XR uses 2 x 2 MIMO allowing the handset to connect with two different streams of data at the same time, but the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have a 4 x 4 MIMO antenna system allowing the pair to handle four channels of data at the same time.

Massive MIMO uses base stations that are equipped with arrays made up of a large number of antennas. This allows a larger number of users to connect to the network at the same time.

Nokia's Lundmark said that not only will it be releasing its new Massive MIMO radio soon, some time during the current quarter, it will have wider bandwidth than a competitor's model in addition to being lighter in high-volume configurations. The executive didn't say which competitor he was talking about although Ericsson and Samsung each recently started talking about their new 5G Massive MIMO radios. Nokia's CEO added, "This whole question of 5G radio competitiveness will be absolutely central to the overall competitiveness of our mobile network business."

During today's conference call, one analyst asked whether Nokia entertained any hopes of scoring a comeback with Verizon. The nation's largest carrier gave a $6.6 billion 5G contract to Samsung instead of Nokia last year. The CEO said that the loss of Verizon's business "started to be visible in Nokia's quarterly results in the second half of last year, and that effect will continue to strengthen towards the end of the year."

In response to the question about a comeback with Verizon, Lundmark said that Verizon is still one of Nokia's three biggest customers and added that "We have really good business with them in other sectors, and we continue to work with them also in radio in addition to IP networks." Moving along, Nokia's CEO said that "You may have noticed that Verizon did list us as one of their radio partners at their capital markets day. There’s a lot of Nokia radio in their network. At the same time, it is a fact that we have not announced any large-scale 5G C-band radio deals with them."

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The 5G C-band that Pekka is talking about has to do with the large amount of mid-band 5G spectrum that Verizon won the licensing for in the FCC's latest C-band auction. Big Red spent over $45 billion to win the bidding on 3,500 licenses. AT&T spent about half of what Verizon did for 1,600 licenses and T-Mobile had only $9 billion in winning bids for just 162 licenses. That's because T-Mobile had purchased a huge amount of 2.5GHz spectrum when it completed its acquisition of Sprint and didn't need to bid as aggressively as the others.

Nokia reported today that its first quarter 2021 sales rose 3% year-over-year to $6.18 billion from $5.94 billion. The growth, as minor as it was, came from its network infrastructure group. Revenue from the mobile unit declined by 4% on an annualized basis.

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