Nokia, Ligado ink private network pact for enterprise

In a new collaboration, Nokia is pairing its private network Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) with Ligado Networks’ L-band spectrum to target the U.S. enterprise market with 4G and 5G.

Nokia has gone after and seen momentum in the private wireless market, including use of its Nokia DAC product. The Finnish vendor’s application platform provides edge compute capabilities alongside private wireless and leverages different spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed. Ligado, meanwhile, is working on commercial effort to put its 35 MHz of lower mid-band spectrum to use and lining up different network vendor partners.

That comes after the FCC in April 2020 greenlit Ligado’s application to use its L-band spectrum to deploy a low-power terrestrial network to support 5G and IoT (though faced continued backlash from the GPS industry). Another key milestone came this past summer when 3GPP approved updates for new technical specifications that enable Band 24 L-band spectrum to be deployed in 5G networks.

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As for work with Nokia, the duo already teamed up soon after 3GPP approvals in June to develop Nokia 5G base stations that can support Ligado’s L-band spectrum. That move was a first for North America.

Now the partners have sights on critical enterprise networks in verticals like utilities, manufacturing, transportation and logistics. Nokia has already made industrial users a priority for private wireless and overall counts more than 340 private wireless enterprise deployments globally. During third quarter earnings, CEO Pekka Lundmark cited 15 million industrial campuses around the world as evidence of a significant opportunity for 5G and private wireless for several years to come.

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And having the option for licensed spectrum comes into play as critical enterprises look to private networks for increased bandwidth, reliability and security.   

"We look forward to further enhancing the strength and versatility of our enterprise mobile private network infrastructure and Industrial user equipment with Ligado's Band 24 spectrum," said Shkumbin Hamiti, had of Devices and Spectrum for Nokia Enterprise Solutions, in a statement. 

For the latest partnership, market engagement with customers is expected in early 2022. Commercial availability of Nokia DAC using Ligado’s L-band spectrum is anticipated by the end of the year.

Ligado CTO Maqbool Aliani said in a statement that the partners also plan to develop additional capabilities with the TDD 1670-1675 MHz band.

“U.S. companies, particularly those operating critical infrastructure and systems, are increasingly implementing mobile private networks to assure reliability and security in their business operations,” said Ligado Chief Strategy Officer Scott Wiener. “To serve this rapidly expanding market need, Ligado is advancing commercial efforts to deploy its 35 MHz of spectrum with market leaders like Nokia, including 3GPP standardization and ecosystem development of the company's 1670-1675 MHz band."

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On the private network front, Ligado also counts Rakuten as a collaborator after agreeing last year to co-develop a 5G mobile private network solution for enterprise using the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).  It later reached a deal with open RAN vendor Mavenir for O-RAN-compliant 5G remote radio units and software compatible with its L-band spectrum.  

Ligado has said its approach for private networks includes a combination of satellite and terrestrial connectivity.