Packet core

Nokia Amps Cloud Core for Private LTE

Nokia has updated its Cloud Packet Core system to provide amped-up private LTE networking support for smart cities, mobile broadband and Internet of Things (IoT) support for enterprises and government.

Private LTE networks are self-contained networks that enterprises and other agencies can use to offer their own managed 4G services. Nokia's Cloud Packet Core update is anticipating that such deployments won't mean company campus or small-scale network deployments in the future.

As such, Nokia Networks is lauding the capacity that the virtualized system can support. Nokia says that up to 50,000 devices can be supported simultaneously. With sensor networks in smart cities expected to grow rapidly, along with connected cars and other enterprise IoT devices, this kind of capacity becomes ever more necessary.

"Private LTE networks are increasingly becoming the preferred approach to deliver business and mission-critical services in industry segments such as railways, aviation, the energy sector and with governments," Nokia says in a statement Thursday.

Indeed, a July research report from SNS Telecom suggests that spending on private LTE networks and associated technology are "expected to surpass $800 million in global investments by the end of 2016," with deployments in the energy and public safety sectors helping to drive the market.

"The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 32% between 2016 and 2020," SNS notes.

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Nokia's competition in the private LTE core network sector includes Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

European operator Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) said in July that it would use Nokia's earlier Cloud Packet Core platform for services like IoT. SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) in South Korea has also worked with Nokia on a number of virtualization tests and trials. Nothing is announced yet but both seem like potential customers for Nokia's private LTE core platform. (See SK Telecom Eyes Virtual Packet Core and Tele2 to Deploy Nokia's Cloud Packet Core.)

Other operators, meanwhile, are looking at various ways to offer private LTE network systems to customers.

Verizon has a specialist partnership with Scada Access Inc. to offer private LTE networks for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Big Red is also offering a private LTE network for paying enterprise customers that has a "Mission Critical" traffic management class that offers differing quality-of-service levels. (See Verizon Teams With SCADA for Private M2M Network and Verizon First With QoS for IoT.)

As 5G arrives in 2020 or so -- with the ability to support different public and private service streams via network slicing -- these private LTE networking offerings should be subsumed into the more segmented 5G whole. Much of the "massive IoT" support -- think millions or even billions of devices -- planned for 5G, however, is expected in the second phase of the specification. This is unlikely to become commercial until at least 2021, if not later. (See Network Slicing Key to Nokia's 5G Framework and Is This the 5G You're Looking For?)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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