Nokia teases indoor mmWave tech to boost FWA

Nokia announced it’s giving fixed wireless access (FWA) a boost by enabling 5G millimeter wave indoor installations with its 360 High Gain mmWave technology.

There’s no actual product to speak of as of yet – a Nokia spokesperson clarified that it’s just announcing a technology innovation for now. Product introductions are planned for the second half of 2022.

So far, Nokia has conducted trials with operators in Japan and Europe using a proof-of-concept device.

It’s working with global operators on FWA solutions, but it’s not saying anything about specific U.S. operators, all of which would probably be happy to hear of breakthroughs in FWA technology at mmWave, although Verizon has been the most aggressive in the space. Nokia’s current trials are using 28 GHz, with plans to expand support for additional bands.

The 360 high gain features announced today are key to enabling indoor self-install by end users, the Nokia spokesperson said. Getting the equipment to a point where it’s self-installable by end-users was a big achievement at Verizon, for example.

Nokia is targeting dense urban environments with this release, claiming it will increase 5G FWA capacity by 5 to 10 times.

RELATED: UScellular, Nokia, Qualcomm stretch 5G mmWave 10 km in new record

Because mmWave requires line-of-sight to operate, signals can easily be disrupted by outdoor or in-home obstacles. Nokia said its 360 High Gain technology overcomes the challenge by both amplifying available signals and dynamically finding the strongest connection.

“Fixed Wireless Access broadband devices typically use 4G or 5G mobile signals for high speed home connectivity,” Nokia said in a press release. “Most 5G FWA deployments today leverage low band (sub 2 Ghz) or mid band (2-6 Ghz) radio frequencies, but as FWA networks develop, additional spectrum will be needed to drive future growth.”

Nokia’s 360 High Gain 5G mmWave technology captures a 360 mmWave fingerprint of the indoor environment, picks up direct and reflected signals from any direction, and adapts to the changing environment through advanced analytics, according to the Finnish vendor.

“Making indoor, self-installable mmWave FWA viable in an urban indoor environment is crucial for FWA growth. The addition of mmWave to the 5G FWA market will deliver the 5 to 10 times more capacity that is needed to support the ever more demanding subscribers and services. I am extremely proud of our Fixed Network team who have notched up yet another technical first,” said Sandy Motley, president, Fixed Networks at Nokia, in a statement.

RELATED: Pivotal sets up shop at Luxe to show off mmWave HBF

What took so long? Well, Nokia isn’t exactly saying, but rivals hawking their own FWA technologies in the mmWave space have taken advantage of their lead time.  

Movandi, for one, has been providing its technology to Verizon to help expand mmWave coverage in homes and buildings. Last week, it announced a successful automotive test with Verizon.

Pivotal Commware CEO Brian Deutsch told Fierce straight up last year that the equipment Pivotal is replacing is that of Nokia and Ericsson. “Let me put it this way: I am their competitor,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re my competitor, but I am certainly their competitor.”

Indeed, Nokia’s thrown its hat into the ring, with volume deployments expected to start in 2023. The initial focus is on operators with subscribers in dense urban environments.