Is Nokia growing into contender in emerging tech?

It would be easy, upon reading the news, to mistake Nokia as simply a mobile phone company, successfully re-releasing their retro style phones for those who prefer a less connected technology experience and enjoying playing snake. But Nokia has been at work in other tech verticals across a range of capacities.

Let’s take a look at what the venerable phone company has been working on.

Wearables and health tech

Nokia acquired Withings, a French wearables and health tech company, for $120 million last year with a product range including connected scales, trackers, blood pressure monitors, thermometers and home cameras.

Many of these are ideal for telemedicine, so Nokia is clearly set to play a greater role in connected health in coming years.  From mid-year, all existing Withings devices will be rebranded with the Nokia name. Expect to see more connected health devices from Nokia in the coming year.
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Nokia will also roll out the company’s HIPAA-compliant Patient Care Platform designed to transform the relationship between patients and healthcare professionals. The new platform will give doctors and care teams the power to remotely monitor patients with their smart devices to help prevent and manage chronic conditions and drive timely and targeted patient care to avoid unnecessary office visits and hospitalizations.

The platform is currently being used by the National Health Service in the UK in a 69,000-person study to better understand hypertension and the role of remote monitoring in lowering hypertension rates.

Launch of IoT network grid

Nokia recently launched WING, a worldwide IoT network grid aimed at providing a full-service model offering IoT connectivity across different technologies to manage a client’s IoT connectivity needs and assets, such as connected cars, as they move around the globe.

It follows the launch of a new wireless router to bring electricity distribution networks into the IoT era and help utilities reliably and securely connect and manage the proliferation of field devices as more smart power grids are deployed. This is part of Nokia’s expansion into vertical markets like energy, transportation, and public safety.

Towards 5G

CEO and President Rajeev Suri used his keynote address to announce a new 5G product called 5G First. 5G First will feature Nokia’s Airscale cloud RAN, as well as its AirScale massive MIMO adaptive antennas for the 3.5GHz, 4.5GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz frequency bands, a cloud packet core, and shared data layer.

In addition, the system will offer transport services for 5G networks. The expectation is to intersect with the 3GPP once in released, most likely around 2020 according to Suri. Suri noted that the world would need to create a new type of network that will act as a global nervous system to orchestrate the growing “automation of everything.”

5G First will be available to early-adopter carriers from the second half of this year, and Nokia said it will use the learnings from its 5G work to contribute to the 3GPP standard.

Suri also commented that “webscale companies”  — including Internet giants such as Amazon or Google — will be building out their capacity faster than network service providers. “Non-carrier customers will add network capacity at more than two times the rate of carriers… we’ve seen a lot of shift take place from the carriers to the cloud players.”

Nokia is a company that has managed to transform itself into a company heavily invested in emerging technology, even Virtual Reality. It will be intriguing to see what areas they decide to delve into next, as Suri said: “Nokia is a fundamentally different company than it was one year ago.”

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