Nokia’s Broadband Zero campaign targets sustainability, inclusivity

Nokia is throwing its weight behind an initiative it calls Broadband Zero, aiming to help connect as many people as possible with a minimal impact on the environment.

Sandy Motley, president of Fixed Networks at Nokia, told Fierce the company’s Broadband Zero campaign is based on four key pillars: zero left behind, zero limits, zero touch and zero waste.

She explained the first pillar is focused on applying fiber and fixed wireless access (FWA) technologies to connect every home and building as quickly as possible. Though fiber is preferable as a long-term solution, she noted it “takes time” to deploy whereas FWA is “a fairly quick solution.” If an operator “has a wireless network, they can very quickly get a fixed wireless access CPE to some of their customers who can do a self-install and then within minutes, an hour of them purchasing the product they can have a good, strong broadband connection.”

The second and third pillars – zero limits and zero touch – home in on network capabilities. Specifically, Motley said former is about enabling operators to introduce new technologies and innovations for their customers, while the latter aims to help service providers transition to fully automated and optimized networks.

Stefaan Vanhastel, CTO for Fixed Networks at Nokia, explained the realization of its zero touch goal could help networks be deployed faster by reducing the time needed in the field to configure new equipment. It could also slash network downtime by as much as 30% with predictive maintenance tools.

He added the final pillar, zero waste, encompasses “things we can do independent of operators going green and the grid going green…the packaging, optimizing the design of our products to consume less power, designing our products in such a way that we generate less waste and that they can be easily recycled.”

Walking the walk

Nokia quietly introduced the Broadband Zero concept in March, but the vendor is now working to put products behind its proposition.

On Tuesday, for example, it announced a new FWA innovation it said can help enable indoor installations of 5G mmWave technology, with this set to be translated into an actual offering in the second half of 2022. It followed up today with the launch of a new application container solution which will allow operators to bypass firmware updates and directly deploy new third-party applications on broadband devices.

RELATED: Nokia teases indoor mmWave tech to boost FWA

John Kendall, principal analyst at Omdia, explained the significance of the latter in a statement. “Whereas previously, these new services would need to be pre-installed on the broadband gateway, containers empower service providers to easily and rapidly provide new capabilities to their customers, bringing new potential revenue streams,” he said.

Nokia said its application containers will initially be available on select fiber, FWA and Wi-Fi gateways, including its WiFi Beacon 6, FastMile 5G Gateway 3.2 and Optical Network Termination XS-2426G-B devices. Developer partners including F-Secure, Broadpeak, Cognitive Systems, Gamebench, Domos, Ookla and NTOP will offer a range of applications spanning cybersecurity, video streaming, gaming and performance monitoring.

It also inked a deal with Orange this week to increase the use of refurbished network equipment. Their agreement initially covers radio equipment, though the pair plan to expand their collaboration to include “other network equipment” over the medium and long-term.

Motley and Vanhastel said the vendor has taken additional action behind the scenes, for instance, changing its packaging to use 100% recycled paper and cardboard. Nokia is also designing products with power efficiency and reuse in mind, they said.

Such steps “actually increase the cost for us. The organic packaging is not cheaper than the foam-based packaging that we used before,” Vanhastel noted. “So, this is not a cynical play to slap a green label onto something that we’re already doing.”

Motley added it’s now looking for additional ways to expand the initiative. “We’re really expecting this to take off, to grow. We’re developing new aspects of it,” she said. “There’s many other areas for us to look at.”