Nokia disses DSS naysayers

Nokia has upped its DSS game. As part of a 5G-led expansion to its AirScale radio-access portfolio, the Finnish vendor highlighted new Dynamic Spectrum Sharing capabilities stretching across multiple radio access technologies.

Through a software upgrade to existing AirScale basestations, Nokia says it won't be confining DSS to the allocation of lowband LTE airwaves to bolster 5G coverage as and when needed.

Nokia's bold DSS debut will see AirScale basestations being able to handle dynamic allocation of 2G and 3G spectrum to support rollout of the next-gen tech.

Initial deliveries of Nokia's DSS solution are planned to start in April, with volume shipments expected by July. The size of those shipments, said Nokia, will depend on availability of DSS-capable mobile devices.

DSS battle lines drawn in the US
Nokia has lagged arch-rival Ericsson in DSS tech, and was probably in the thinking of Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile, when he recently dissed DSS (again) and spoke of "vendor delays." (See T-Mobile's DSS warnings all hot air, claim AT&T and Verizon.)

Ray's DSS criticisms need to be treated with some caution, however. T-Mobile repeatedly boasts about its "unencumbered" glut of lowband 600MHz spectrum, which makes it less reliant on DSS tech for broad 5G coverage than AT&T and Verizon. Ray has been only too happy, then, to question DSS readiness for prime time and to call out what he sees as rivals' over-reliance on the tech to bolster 5G coverage.

True, AT&T and Verizon might be a little over defensive about DSS, but there are signs the technology is getting up to speed.

Huawei, albeit not likely to be a US network vendor choice anytime soon, recently bragged that its 4G/5G flash DSS technology was deployed in commercial networks in various other countries, although usage clearly remains dependent on device availability. (See Commercial deployment for Huawei's 4G5G flash dynamic spectrum sharing.)

Last November, and working with Ericsson and Qualcomm, Verizon performed what it claimed was a successful DSS trial. Two months previously, Ericsson and Qualcomm said they conducted "the world's first 5G data call" using DSS on a frequency division duplex (FDD) lowband platform.

Beyond the US, and at the end of last year, Switzerland's Swisscom and Australia's Telstra partnered with Ericsson and Qualcomm to conduct an international DSS 5G data call over lowband FDD spectrum. Chinese manufacturer OPPO provided pre-commercial 5G smartphones.

Nokia 5G gets edgy
Aside from DSS, Nokia announced the Nokia AirScale All-in-Cloud basestation, which virtualizes real-time baseband and puts baseband processing power at the network edge. The idea here is meet extremely low-latency requirements, as well as boosting network efficiencies.

Nokia Bell Labs is also demonstrating a prototype of what it says is the "next evolutionary step" in its 5G RAN roadmap. Dubbed the Nokia AirScale Cloud-native RAN, this will apparently "implement the characteristics of a cloud-native environment."

Nokia recently warned investors that it would not complete its transition to more profitable 5G products until 2022 but expects its mobile market share to remain stable outside China this year despite headwinds that include the recent outbreak of coronavirus. (See Nokia sees light at end of 5G tunnel.)

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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