Nokia and Telefónica Germany are focusing on 4.5G and 4.9G technologies on their road to commercializing the fifth generation of mobile networks, the two companies said Wednesday, having formalized their future collaboration in the segment by signing a Memorandum of Understanding, pledging to create what they refer to as the "5G Innovation Cluster." The cluster is essentially a partnership meant to materialize in Telefónica's Munich lab where the two will be testing 4.5G, 4.9G, and 5G solutions going forward with the near-term goal of building experimental networks that some of Telefónica's customers will be able to access. Massive MIMO solutions will be one of the focus points of the alliance that's seeking to leverage that technology with the goal of improving the throughput of its test infrastructure.
Advancements in low-latency communications will also be explored by Nokia and Telefónica, with the duo stressing the importance of such solutions for future automation technologies like self-driving cars. The partners are also seeking to improve their multi-access edge computing services and try to deliver systems that can support virtual reality hardware and software. The product-first approach to 5G development that Nokia and Telefónica are adopting through their collaboration is the defining characteristic of the next generation of mobile networks that's largely expected to allow for a wireless revolution, paving the way for new types of products, services, and businesses. The two firms are expected to start trialing a number of experimental networks later this year, with Berlin being their first testbed, though no particular timelines have yet been attached to the project.
Nokia has been heavily involved in 5G R&D from the technology's inception, seeking to strengthen its position in the global network equipment market, though its massive investments in the field that's still several years away from large-scale commercialization placed a strain on its finances, making it somewhat more reliant on its licensing business, including its deal with HMD Global that's been selling Nokia-branded Android smartphones since early 2017. Nokia will first turn to the United States and its partnership with the country's national carriers to start generating some returns on its 5G investments before it will be able to do the same in Europe.