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Nokia secures $572M EU loan to develop 5G

In a bid to accelerate research and development of 5G technology, Nokia has signed on a $572 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The loan, supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), will help Nokia to implement “end-to-end” 5G networks, including all the computing, software and services that go with it.

Nokia’s end-to-end network proposition goes from the radio network to the internet protocol (IP) and optical networks for transmission, the packet core network, service platforms and all the software and services associated with the whole system, it said in a statement.

In the Indian context, Nokia announced that telecom operators could begin field trials of 5G technology in the country by the end of the year, while the Indian government targets a complete roll-out of 5G by 2022. Earlier this month, TRAI also proposed floor prices for auctioning spectrum dedicated for 5G roll out although the auction dates are yet to be announced.

T-Mobile deal and EU’s race to 5G

Nokia recently completed a 5G New Radio data call with 4G and 5G dual connectivity in China. The current loan follows Nokia’s $3.5 billion deal with American telecom provider T-Mobile, where the Finnish company would develop complete end-to-end 5G technology, software, and services for the telco. The development also comes months after the EIB disbursed a €250 million loan to Ericsson for development of 5G. These efforts are seen as a strategy by the European Union to support some of their large technology companies against Chinese rivals in the race to dominate 5G mobile networks.

Alexander Stubb, EIB vice-president and former Finnish prime minister told the Financial Times “Europe needs to be involved in the race for 5G. We have to understand that our competitors are huge and the likes of Huawei and China Mobile. This is where we need to wake up and smell the coffee and get connected.”

According to Stubb, the rest of the world, particularly, the US and China have surpassed the EU in regards to 4G. However, with enough investment in emerging technologies and by supporting some of their large tech/telecom companies, Stubb believes that the EU can stand toe-to-toe with the US and China. He likened the situation to that during the early 1990s, when Europe raced ahead of the US and the rest of the world with 2G.

5G mobile networks are expected to offer data speeds up to 200 times faster than the current 4G or LTE networks. However, they could be detrimental to upcoming technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), driverless vehicles, medical monitoring, IoT etc. 5G is expected to be rolled out commercially in late 2019 or early 2020.

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