Highlighting an emerging, potentially lucrative opportunity, Nokia said it today runs more than 120 private wireless networks across the globe.
And, more importantly, the company cited figures from Harbor Research showing that the overall opportunity for private wireless networks could span up to 14 million sites worldwide, which would be double the 7 million macro basestations devoted to commercial wireless networks.
"The opportunity is massive," Houman Modarres, senior director of enterprise marketing at Nokia, told Light Reading. He added that consulting firm ABI Research predicts the private wireless networking opportunity will reach $16.3 billion by 2025.
Nokia said its current private wireless business includes:
- 24 customers in transportation, including Port of Kokkola, Port of Oulu and Vienna Airport.
- 35 customers in Energy, including Minera Las Bambas.
- 32 customers in public sector and smart cities, including Sendai City and Nordic Telecom/Czech Republic.
- 11 customers in manufacturing and logistics, including China Unicom/BMW and Ukkoverkot/Konecranes.
Importantly, Modarres explained that "4.9G" LTE technologies help meet many of the needs of Nokia's enterprise customers. He said 5G products and services will soon be available in the space, but that Nokia believes LTE, as an already mature technology, can grow the private wireless opportunity.
Why this matters
With its announcement, Nokia is not only touting its progress in the private wireless space -- and the product portfolio that it's applying to the opportunity -- but also its hopes that the sector will help catch any slowdowns in its main service provider business.
Nokia's shares have tumbled in recent weeks on investor worries that the company could fall behind rivals Ericsson and Huawei in supplying 5G equipment to wireless network operators.
A burgeoning opportunity in the private wireless network space could not only allow Nokia to prop up any sagging sales to operators, it could also allow the company to profit from the sale of its older LTE equipment.
Nokia of course isn't the only company betting on the private wireless networking opportunity. Big companies such as Ericsson and Verizon and small companies such as Redline and Federated Wireless have also pointed to the space as one that could drive significant sales.
Factors driving interest among enterprises in these kinds of networks include a desire for communications capabilities beyond what WiFi can support, as well as falling equipment prices and a growing batch of unlicensed spectrum or, in some countries, spectrum specifically set aside for enterprises.