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CES 2019 - Nokia WPON – High Debit for all


On the ENGIE & Partners booth at CES 2019 in January will be the Finnish company Nokia, presenting their WPON solution (Wireless Passive Optical Networks). Philip Van den Eynde and Keith Russell answered our questions.

Q: Hello gentlemen. Can you briefly present your company and the WPON project?

At Nokia, we create technology to connect the world. This includes virtually everything used to build both mobile and fixed networks, including core routing, cloud-based services, and optical transport. We have a global presence, and power some of the largest networks in the world.

For connecting subscribers, fiber is Nokia's technology of choice, for its low operational costs and very high-speed services. But fiber can be costly, time-consuming, or sometimes even impossible to deploy. So we use fiber where it makes economic sense and other technologies elsewhere. New developments mean that we can now offer Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), including WPON, as an alternative. The signal goes by fiber to a wall portal at a central point, and is then transmitted by short-range wireless to the end user, with excellent reception and minimum interference.

In the case of WPON, we can connect subscribers in challenging areas for one quarter of the cost of fiber, while maintaining speed at today's "magic rate" of 1Gbps (one gigabit per second). Its flexibility not only makes it useful for residential services, but also means it can provide secure, high-speed connections for large campuses, municipalities or even companies.

Q: - Tell us your story with ENGIE.

Our focus at CES with ENGIE is Fixed Networks: the elements connecting subscribers to the core network. Familiar examples are fiber and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technologies. But since the arrival on the scene of FWA, Nokia has been in discussions with ENGIE about using WPON to provide high-speed connectivity in metropolitan areas without deploying additional fiber. Specifically under evaluation is a project which would allow metro stations to upload closed-circuit TV videos to a central location in record time.

Q: - What will you showcase at CES and why?

We will of course showcase our WPON solution and demonstrate how, in contrast to public Wi-Fi which is shared, it uses 60 GHz WiGig technology to provide end users with secure, point-to-point connections gigabit speeds.

Q: - What would be the "magic encounter" for you at CES?

One magic encounter, of course, would be that in which we identify real opportunities and new cases where our solution can be used. All our effort is of little value if we don’t see the result applied in the real world.

But beyond the simple business question, there is a human aspect. These solutions can improve the lives of millions - without those millions even knowing it! Consumer electronics is about innovations that people hold in their hand, watch on a screen, or use in countless other ways. The end device is what is tangible to them, and many of the businesses at CES will have that same focus.

But the network matters! The more people connected, the bigger the market for consumer electronic devices. And history tells us that as networks get faster, the industry finds ways to utilize that. Our solutions connect homes and businesses at very high speeds, and we then network those places with fast, reliable Wi-Fi and other technologies. So the "magic encounter" is perhaps also the meeting between the power of the network and the benefits of the devices.

Q: - How do you imagine connectivity in 2030?

That’s a difficult question, given the pace of innovation today. Speeds will increase of course, and the fiber infrastructure will continue to play a key role in that. 5G is in its infancy now but will be mature by then, offering 10 to 25 times the speed of 4G. Our hope is also for a shrinking of the digital divide, with more connectivity for more users in rural and underserved areas.

Source: Martyn Crossland

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