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How Microsoft is preparing for the smart city network of the future

How Microsoft is preparing for the smart city network of the future

Joachim Wuilmet, Head of Customer Marketing and Communications, MEA at Nokia

Joachim Wuilmet, Head of Customer Marketing and Communications, MEA at Nokia, discusses how the smart city of the future will enhance public safety.

Q: Can you tell us about Nokia’s work with Needa?
Nedaa is an operator which runs its own communication network dedicated for the Dubai government, to make Dubai safe and smart. They support the public safety, the mission-critical, the smart city entities. They are in the G2G business, the government-to-government business.

A few years ago, there was this big celebration in downtown Dubai, Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to see the fireworks and the Address Hotel caught fire. This is where you see the need for having commercial networks, for those people using the networks for Facebook and social media, but also for people saving lives, for the first rescuers to have a dedicated high availability, dedicated bandwidth for mission-critical and public safety purposes.

That’s basically what Nedaa is about. In this space, the traditional standard has served its purpose, but the technology today is much more hungry in terms of bandwidth. If you think about what LTE can bring in terms of capabilities; if there is a fire, we can have the firemen equipped with some wearables, having the medical KPIs of the team sent to this. We can also share in real time the temperatures, video stream, we can have the team communicate with each other. We can use the LTE technology which is, broadly speaking, the same which is used in hundreds of operators around the world, but in a dedicated manner, with dedicated use cases.

We have some demonstrations where a police officer has LTE capabilities in their car, showing the view on the street to the command centre. We have been very much innovating and that’s very important. If you are in Dubai, innovation is not only a buzz word, but you see actually a lot of innovation-driven activities stemming from this part of Dubai, from the Dubai government, from the Dubai rulers, very much driving and pushing Dubai innovation ecosystem.

As an example of that, we have been working with the Dubai government in building the drone-related ecosystem. You can see in most of the stands at GITEX, people are showcasing how drones can be used to patrol the streets, to help the fire brigade to detect where the fire comes from. Again, what we are thinking is, this smart device needs to be connected. We are using our LTE technology to control the drone, to monitor the drone. It’s a bit of a new space so we need also to understand the use cases but also very important as well as the regulatory impact.

We work on the technology side, but also on the regulatory impact of how can we basically allow flying objects to interfere in a safe way, in a controlled manner. That’s why we were very excited to partner with Nedaa and Dubai government because they are doing what people are dreaming of doing.

We see as a global trend a very, very strong demand for the smart city but also public-safety dedicated network. That’s an area of strategic role for Nokia where we bring our LTE expertise, but keeping in mind the public safety.

We also have a solution which consists of a backpack which is basically a full-fledged mobile network which can be hand-carried and you can switch it on and off, meaning if the existing infrastructure is down, being commercial, being public safety, the first responders can have communication need at their disposal. It’s really a network in a backpack that’s already commercially available.

Q: How does Nokia adapt its solutions to cater for the extra demand that smart city connectivity puts on networks?
We are preparing the network of tomorrow with 5G. I would say LTE today is able to support certain use cases. If you look at video streaming, LTE is very mature and very reliable for video stream.

When you move fast forward a couple of years, when we think about a world where everything is connected, where your car is connected, you have robots in the production line connected, we will have new requirements. This is where 5G is coming into the picture. 5G will essentially bring three things. The best LTE network today when we stretch the boundaries we can go up to one gigabit per second. With 5G, you can expect 20 gigabits. That’s enabling new use cases like virtual reality.

Secondly, because everything will be connected, we are talking about millions, if not billions, of connected devices, you need a network that’s able to address so many things connected to the Internet of Things.

The third requirement that LTE is not able to deliver is ultra-low latency. 5G will bring latency that allows you to think about remote surgery with direct feedback. You can think about the connected car. That’s 5G and that will enable all sorts of new use cases, paving the way for what everybody’s talking about, the fourth Industrial Revolution.

5G today doesn’t exist. We know the requirements, we know what we want from 5G, but what made the success of our industry is that it’s a standardised industry. Across the world, across devices things can intercommunicate. For that, there is a standardisation body which will release the full set of 5G specifications. The first 5G specs will come expected in 2018.

We can expect the first commercial 5G networks to happen around 2019, with live trials. The US, Japan and Korea have always been at the forefront of technology deployment and this is where we see the strongest likelihood of 5G coming first. But we can also see cities like Dubai and the Middle East also being very advanced and pioneering. I see them also as very active and proactive to make sure that 5G comes very soon in this part of the world.

Q: Is Nokia looking to partner with other companies similar to Needa to bring these services to all industries?
That’s exactly true because part of the Nokia strategy is to continue to work very closely with mobile and fixed communication service providers, but we’re also increasingly focusing on the enterprise space, in the government space. As I mentioned, also in the automotive industry, for example, we have car to car communication and for this we partner with automotive manufacturers to understand the requirements to define the technology.

So, our customer base will dramatically expand from large enterprise, small enterprise because every company must have an IoT strategy.