Nokia is proving to be its own biggest fan, parading around a list of accomplishments, from 5G contract wins to the number of patents it has filed across the last year.
With a list including the likes of O2, T-Mobile US, Verizon, Vodafone Italy and Zain Saudi, the team is not unveiling how many base stations it has actually shipped, though it does appear it is keeping momentum with rivals, despite rumours of poorly performing products.
“This milestone highlights the quality and customer confidence in our 5G portfolio, and we expect this to continue this year with the addition of many more new deals,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia.
“Our global end-to-end portfolio includes products and services for every part of a network, which are helping network operators to enable key 5G capabilities such as network slicing, distributed cloud and the industrial Internet of Things. We are delighted that our technologies are helping to shape the delivery and deployment of 5G technologies worldwide and the myriad benefits these will bring to businesses and consumers alike.”
Nokia is now claiming to have signed commercial 5G contracts with 63 customers, 60% of which select more than just New Radio from the portfolio. The team is also suggesting it has put together a hording of more than 2000 5G patents and has contributed technology to 18 live networks across the world.
Although this is little more than a propaganda campaign to raise the profile of the firm, Nokia does appear to be keeping pace with rivals. Ericsson has stated it has signed 78 commercial agreements, Huawei said it had signed 50 in September, ZTE is claiming 35 by October and Samsung has also been weighing in with some interesting wins including AT&T, Vidéotron in Canada, as well as KT and SK Telecom in its domestic market of South Korea.
Interestingly enough, it is only Huawei and ZTE who are bold enough to state how many 5G base stations have been shipped to date, though these numbers are not the most recent. ZTE stated it would have exceeded the 100,000 milestone by the end of 2019, while Huawei claims to have shipped more than 400,000 in October.
Looking at the patents, Nokia’s claim of 2,000 does sound impressive, but you have to place some context to the situation. According to a report published by market intelligence firm IPlytics in November, Nokia is sitting in fourth place in the race for 5G patents.
|Declared 5G patent families||Filed in at least one office||Granted in at least one office|
What is worth noting, is that while a bigger number is very PR worthy, it is not always the greatest reflection of the industry. Last year, Ericsson CIPO and Head of IPR & Licensing Christina Petersson suggested Ericsson was the most successful in the industry, owning 15.8% of standard essential 5G patents. Nokia and Huawei, by comparison, both had 10.9%.
Petersson suggests many of the patent claims in the industry are misleading, as some simply count the number patents declared to ETSI as being possibly essential to 5G, though these are not independently validated. Some which are being claimed as ‘essential to’ might not be; it might simply be another way to pump the reputation of the firm in a slightly misleading manner.
This is where the language becomes a bit more nuanced. Nokia has ‘declared’ 2,000 patents, but it has not necessarily been granted this many. Many of the patents filed throughout the industry have not been granted yet, and many of the applications are not publicly available for assessment.
Perhaps the number of commercial 5G contracts or patents might mean something one day, but ultimately there are too many unknowns to place too much credit to the claims.