Nokia is already one of the biggest manufacturers of mobile networking equipment in the world, and today’s announcement that they are going to be a key player in T-Mobile’s upcoming 5G network rollout. T-Mobile has announced that they are planning to use all of their available network resources to start working on building out 5G in the near future, with a focus on the wealth of 600MHz spectrum that they recently won in the FCC’s incentive auction. Nokia will be helping T-Mobile to repurpose existing network equipment, and outfit new equipment to be compatible with compatible with as many standards and frequencies as possible.
While budding 5G standards mostly lean on higher-band spectrum and small cells that can bring them to where they need to be, Nokia and T-Mobile want to seek out solutions that can leverage the wealth of low-band spectrum that T-Mobile now possesses to deliver 5G speeds. Nokia, for their part, seems confident that they can figure it out. Part of the plan is to set up the network in layers around multiple interlocking frequency bands, which could mean that several of the lower-frequency bands that T-Mobile now has access to could be combined to equal the same data throughput as a single higher band. Technologies that T-Mobile has recently been rolling out, such as 4×4 MIMO and 3-channel carrier aggregation, could help to make that a reality.
Nokia is a big player in the rollout of 5G throughout America with multiple customers, but this announcement seems to imply that they will be working with T-Mobile on a unique solution that could very well position their network ahead of competitors. The main crux of the plan, using 600MHz spectrum for 5G services, is the key to that advantage. Whereas higher bands can’t pierce obstacles or reach customers far from the cellular transmission point, low-band waves, such as those in the 600MHz spectrum block, can provide service deep inside buildings, underground, and over wide areas. If T-Mobile manages to pull this off with Nokia’s help, they could have a real advantage over competitors, most of whom plan to utilize small cells as the main tool in their 5G rollout.