Nokia gets some Telia love with 5G mall win

Swedish operator group Telia showed it’s not entirely monogamous with Ericsson by picking Nokia to run its new 5G network in the new Mall of Tripla in Helsinki.

While a single shopping centre might not seem like the biggest deal win, it will serve as a case study into all the capacity goodness promised by 5G. Using both Nokia base stations and small cell gear, shoppers at the mall will presumably be able to download the entire internet in one nanosecond and all the other good things promised by 5G enhanced mobile broadband.

“We are seeing increased demand for better connectivity at shopping centers, stadiums and large events, which is why the 5G network rollout at the Mall of Tripla is a milestone for both Nokia and Telia,” said Ari Kynäslahti, Head of Mobile Networks Product Management at Nokia.

I am particularly proud of the way our 5G AirScale Indoor Radio small cells have been able to be discretely installed inside the mall for excellent, seamless indoor coverage. The retail industry has the potential to be one of the big beneficiaries of 5G and we are excited to see how consumers and businesses benefit from this 5G network at the largest shopping center in the Nordics.”

Of course all that lovely bandwidth isn’t just about downloading movies, etc. There is an expectation that retail will be able to use both augmented and virtual reality to enhance the shopping experience in some way. On top of this being a handy case study for Nokia, it will be pleased to be reminded there is still room in Telia’s heart for it after being snubbed in Norway.

Customer service in the 5G era

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Simon Osborne, Head of Nokia Software Portfolio, offers some insight into customer service best practice as we move into the 5G era.

When reflecting on the word “service,” it can clearly be defined as the act of serving. But who exactly are communication service providers (CSPs) serving?

In the telecom industry, traditional service development has either been driven by what the network can do or what competitors are doing. This service tactic doesn’t always have a lot to do with the customer, and is ultimately a reactionary approach to innovation. The old define-and-push approach no longer works, and service providers everywhere know this has to change if they want to stay relevant.

Today, the vital approach needed is a demand-and-pull model that embraces the new ways people and companies consume services and content, rooted in the best possible experience. It requires reimagining the entire process to be based on “experience outcomes” and it has a direct impact on service provider operations.

Opening up the ecosystem to integrate the business

In order to embrace a demand-and-pull model, service providers must understand their business in totality, rather than simply the infrastructure elements behind individual customer touchpoints. The service is not just about what they provide or how they provide it or troubleshoot it when there are issues. It’s about all of those things combined.

CSPs who get this right by leveraging their customer insights will have the power to drive a different experience — and different outcomes.

The good news is that they don’t have to do it alone. In the 5G era, networks can be transformed into a platform that providers and their partners can utilize together to create services that meet customer needs, whether it be online gaming packages with the network built in or industrial automation services. The sky’s the limit.

Prioritizing the User Experience Above Everything

The ways people use their devices and data today aren’t yet reflected in the structure of the service provider industry. I think about the times I’ve tried to use online banking or a rideshare app while traveling, only to be hit with a roaming charge. As a user, I don’t care whose network I’m on – I just want to use my apps.

Imagine a scenario in which my provider offered me a premium to use my apps anywhere, rather than penalizing me for trying to use my device. I’d feel more taken care of – and I’d likely take the offer. For service providers, this is about seizing the moment in order to monetize it while also fostering relationships.

It is vital to begin viewing the network as a fluid platform for services that support those kinds of relationships with end customers. In order to make that happen, traditional processes need to be re-centered around the customer’s need so that all the handoffs within the network are geared toward meeting that need.

Designing service-centric operations

It takes more than putting a digital veneer on existing processes in order to shift to an outcomes-driven demand-and-pull model. Traditional CSPs have to become digital service providers. It’s a mindset that alters everything from service delivery to the innovation journey and requires being much more service-centric by getting past the idea that operations are simply the network operations center.

5G is changing the network and the customer journey — profoundly, and operations will need to change, too. We must break down the silos and move to a closed-loop approach that’s driven by business outcomes – not by simply what the network can do. It is vital that better balance be found between supply and demand based on intelligent, on-demand processes that support the management of digital services from end to end over a software-based network.

These kinds of services will be more complex than the ones offered today, without a doubt. However, this outcome-driven approach to service is vital for the 5G future by putting the focus on serving, above all else, the customer.

 

simon osborne nokiaAs the Head of Portfolio Strategy, Simon is responsible for the direction of the Nokia Software Portfolio. While the industry embraces all aspects of digitalization, Simon works with CSPs to solve these challenges by ensuring they have new software tools, approaches and architectures to be successful. During 25+ years in the OSS/BSS industry he has held senior positions in professional services, consulting, product engineering, product management and product strategy.

US government thinking of giving Nokia and Ericsson a helping hand – report

Huawei’s main rivals in the telecoms kit market could be set for some extra assistance from the US as it looks to level the 5G playing field.

The rumour comes courtesy of the FT, which spoke to some anonymous but definitely senior US government officials. They reckon that, in spite of all the impediments the US has thrown in its way, there’s a real danger that Huawei could become ‘dangerously dominant’ in the 5G market. One way to help Ericsson and Nokia keep up may be to give them cheap credit, so they can match the generous financing terms Huawei offers its customers.

One official lamented how rubbish at making telecoms gear the US is and is starting to worry about the national security implications of taking its eye off that ball. “Almost every department and agency is desperately looking right now for ways to get back into this game,” they are quoted as saying. Another even ventured that if they don’t, Huawei might be the only choice for 5G gear, which seems a bit harsh on Nokia and Ericsson, not to mention Samsung and ZTE.

The credit thing seems to be a direct challenge to the assistance Huawei is thought to get from Chinese state banks. No such state credit lines are available to western companies, which obviously puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Underlying this is the broader narrative that China doesn’t play fair in global trade and offers a considerable amount of state assistance to its domestic champions.

The report seems to imply the US is considering an ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ approach by not only helping out its favoured kit vendors, but even trying to create persuade a US player like Cisco to get involved in 5G gear. Reports like this make it easy to believe that all this security talk is just a smokescreen designed to legitimise US participation in the kind of state intervention it condemns China for.

Nokia launches a new fixed-line chipset family

Finnish kit vendor Nokia has unveiled a new chipset family called Quillion that is designed to get the best out of fibre networks.

The name may have been chosen to imply a really big number, but it could also refer to the crossguard of a sword, or even a town in central Chile. Who knows? One of its USPs does seem to be to introduce a degree of future-proofing to fibre networks its used on, such that data rates of 10 Gbps won’t be a problem.

“In a 5G world, consumers will expect a gigabit experience regardless if they are at home or on the go,” said Sandra Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia. “Our Quillion chipset is designed to deliver gigabit broadband to every home, using broadband technologies like fibre to complement 5G in massive scale access networks. This allows operators to efficiently connect more people with higher speeds, and positively impacts their business case.”

“Nokia’s Quillion chipset family supports diverse upgrade scenarios, whether large-scale, high-density migrations or selective migrations, across multi-vendor and multi-access technologies,” said Julie Kunstler, Principal Analyst at Ovum. “It also incorporates time-critical and low-latency capabilities, enabling the use of 5G for both access and transport applications by customers. These functions are essential for operators transitioning to next-generation networks.”

The top-line narrative is that this is the chip for all your PON needs, including easy switch from GPON to NG-PON. Nokia also claims it’s optimised to support low-latency 5G applications as well as network slicing. For the more nostalgic CSPs it supports the latest Gfast and Vplus copper technologies too.

Nokia invents the press release montage

Not content with its countless 5G ‘firsts’, Nokia has broken new marketing ground by inventing the press release montage and then issuing a press release about it.

“Nokia is celebrating twelve months of 5G ‘firsts’” heralds the press release. While we don’t question that Nokia has plenty to celebrate, it’s unusual to see an announcement celebrating the celebrations. Presumably we can now expect Nokia’s CEO to send a press release the next time he’s out on the lash for his birthday.

The gloss was taken off the source of this public euphoria by the puzzling use of scare quotes around the word ‘firsts’. These are often used by us grizzled hacks to denote some degree of scepticism around the claim being made, so it’s surprising to see Nokia apply them to its own statement. Inadvertently, we presume, they create the impression that Nokia doesn’t fully support the claim it’s making.

But the real innovation is the recycling of several bits of old news to make a shiny new piece. All journalists will have some sympathy for the position Nokia’s marketing department presumably found itself in – wanting to stay in the news but having nothing significant to announce. In fact, you can expect to see stories celebrating a great year of writing stories on Telecoms.com next time there’s a quiet news day.

Warming to its theme, Nokia goes on to claim no less than 23 ‘game-changing’ (see how it works?) achievements in the past year, such that the game is unrecognisable from its 2018 form. It then goes on to list them. The purpose of all this celebrating, game-changing and listing is to emphasise how great Nokia is at 5G, as if that was in any doubt.

“The past 12 months of Nokia’s 5G milestones and successes stem from our years of research into 5G and the resulting innovative technologies are changing the world for consumers and industries,” said Marcus Weldon, Nokia’s Corporate CTO and President of Nokia Bell Labs.

“Whether enabling new geographies to experience the possibilities of 5G for the first time, pushing technology to define new limits and deliver groundbreaking performance, or achieving 5G firsts never before seen, Nokia’s end-to-end portfolio is helping customers redefine what’s possible, as the true potential of 5G starts to take hold.”

Not just firsts, but ones never before seen at that; first firsts, if you will. We congratulate Nokia on knocking it out of the part for the past year and sincerely hope everyone there enjoyed their celebrations. It’s healthy to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then, but most people don’t feel the need make a formal announcement out of it. But having set the precedent we look forward to a video montage of all Nokia’s recent achievements before long.

 

Ericsson and Nokia both claim to be KDDI primary 5G partner

In a strange turn of events, both Ericsson and Nokia have made announcements claiming to be the primary partner for the efforts of Japanese telcos to drive towards 5G.

Unless there is a different definition of ‘primary’ in the Nordics, someone is up to a bit of funny business.

Looking at the Ericsson announcement first, the Swedes are claiming to be the primary 5G vendor with the first commercial live 5G services to be available from March 2020. As part of the agreement, Ericsson will supply KDDI with Radio Access Network equipment, including products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio.

“Having established our important partnership with KDDI in 2013, we have now expanded our collaboration efforts,” said Chris Houghton, Head of Market Area North East Asia for Ericsson. “We are excited about our involvement in KDDI’s 5G network buildout, which will provide a sound basis for our future collaboration as well as allowing our partner to offer users a whole new generation of mobile services.”

Over in Finland, Nokia has said it has been selected by KDDI as a primary partner. There might be a bit of nuanced language here, though it would certainly be unusual to have more than one primary.

Looking at the two statements, Ericsson is claiming to be “the” primary partner while Nokia is claiming to be “a” primary partner. This might be the slight difference we have been searching for to understand why such little regard has been afforded to the dictionary.

If more than one company is being granted the title of “primary”, in our opinion, it undermines the concept entirely.

“This deal will allow KDDI to get ready for the 5G era and we are honoured and excited to continue our long-term relationship,” said John Harrington, Head of Nokia Japan. “As an end-to-end supplier of multiple technologies to KDDI, we look forward to transforming the network and launching 5G for consumers and industries.”

Nokia’s agreement suggests its radio access solution AirScale will be used to support both cmWave and mmWave 5G frequency bands across its network.

As it stands, Nokia currently has 48 5G commercial contracts in place, though it is not clear how many 5G base stations the company is manufacturing or shipping each month. Alongside this agreement, Nokia also signed a pact with Vodafone New Zealand last month, with the telco planning to launch 5G services towards the end of 2019.

In Sweden, Ericsson has signed 25 5G commercial contracts, while it announced deals with Nex-Tech Wireless and RINA Wireless earlier this month. These are not the biggest deals you could imagine, both the telcos are regional US carriers, though considering the size of some of the areas covered (Kansas, Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon) they are useful contracts to collect. Ericsson is also not unveiling how many base stations it has shipped to date.

Ericsson is claiming to be involved with two-thirds of the live deployments worldwide, while Nokia has said it is providing equipment to 11.

The two announcements with KDDI are perfectly demonstrative of the situation both Nokia and Ericsson are in currently. With Huawei running riot through the 4G era, these two vendors will have to prove their on-point heading into the 5G epoch. It might be little more than chest-beating for the management team to prove to investors they are not falling that far behind the Chinese rival.

Huawei has claimed to so far gained 50 5G commercial contracts and shipped more than 150,000 base stations. With the Chinese vendor under severe pressure from the US Government, some would have assumed both Nokia and Ericsson would have benefitted greatly, though this does not appear to be the state-of-play currently. They are both doing well, but given the context, is it good enough?

Over the last few years, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri has promised 5G would bring fortunes for the company, while Ericsson was forced into replaced its CEO in early 2017 to steady the ship. Börje Ekholm has done a perfectly reasonable job though rumours have emerged he is ready to step down.

What should be worth noting is that Ekholm was CEO of Investor AB prior to assuming control at Ericsson. Investor AB is a notable investor in Ericsson, so it would have been reasonable to presume his time at the top would have been limited. Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe has announced he will be leaving the automotive company, with local press suggesting he is in-line to take over.

Ericsson is yet to provide clarity on the situation, though Nokia has suggested KDDI would be able to clear up the situation.

Iliad confirms Nokia for France and Italy 5G push

In a much needed win for Nokia, the Finnish network vendor will be the central cog to the Iliad 5G deployment strategy across France and Italy.

In recent months, Nokia has at times looked like a bit of a suspect partner to work alongside, though that doesn’t seem to bother Iliad that much. In South Korea during April, unnamed officials said all three operators were told to expect delays in receiving 5G base stations, while Sprint in US it was also suggested delays were down to the Finnish vendor’s tardiness.

CEO Rajeev Suri acknowledged the delays, suggesting they were only ‘short-term’ issues, in April’s earnings call, though the chief also tried to shift the blame onto ‘instabilities’ in consumer chipsets. The fact that these issues were not reported by Nokia’s competitors says more than Suri would like.

However, Iliad is an important win for the vendor.

After partnering with Iliad for both its 3G and 4G networks, Nokia would have been confident in retaining the relationship, though it has been losing out over the last 12-18 months. The telco is currently planning its 5G roadmap, with the first base stations set to go live in 2020.

This is somewhat of an important juncture for the telco, which has been licking its own battle wounds over the last couple of financial periods. Despite taking the French market by storm in the early years, Iliad has been suffering at the hands of competition as rivals stepping their own promotional games, chasing down Iliad during the race to the bottom.

The last financial period looked much more promising, though it still has some work to do to repair the damage. In May, Iliad reported an increase in mobile service revenues in France of 2.3%, however the total number of subscribers decreased by 50,000, down to 13.4 million.

The damage was most notable across 2018. Across the first half, Iliad was beaten at its own game, being undercut by rivals and being forced into announced a reduction in profit forecasts. Q1 in 2018 saw churn of 200,000 mobile subscriptions, the first net decline since the introduction of Iliad in 2012. The broadband business suffered the same fate, resulting in roughly a 40% share price crash across the whole of 2018.

Looking at the most recent numbers, there is a bit more stability and perhaps this is where the greatest enthusiasm for an aggressive 5G rollout will emerge from. In both France and Italy, Iliad has an opportunity to generate momentum through the new connectivity euphoria. This is an era which, once again, looks perfect for aggressive pricing and the first to scale 5G across a nation will reap the profits.

The opportunity for Iliad to get back on track is certainly there, it just needs the right partner to help facilitate the rollout and get the company back on track in the 5G world. Iliad executives will be hoping Nokia’s troubles are in the rear-view mirror.

Nokia found to be best brand for prompt Android updates

There is significant variation in the performance of the leading Android smartphone makers when it comes to updating Android, according to new research.

Counterpoint has crunched the numbers and concluded that among all Android handset brands Nokia (manufactured by HMD Global) is the quickest and best at rolling out new versions of Android to its users after Google has issued them. Samsung Xiaomi and Huawei also do a decent job of serving their customers on this matter, but after them there’s a significant drop off.

Counterpoint android update chart

“Operating system and security updates are an aspect of Android smartphones that get relatively little attention,” said Peter Richardson of Counterpoint. “In our experience researching the industry, we have seen a few brands focusing on this. And perhaps because manufacturers are not talking about it, consumer awareness is also low. It doesn’t appear among the ten features consumers say they care about most, in our research.

“Unsurprisingly, therefore, little effort is expended by the top manufacturers in focusing on regular updates to the operating system and device security, despite it being a critical element in the continued safe performance of the smartphone. Many of the key features including battery life, processor, camera and memory are linked to the performance of the underlying operating system. We believe it is important to the overall consumer experience and is likely to become more widely recognized as such.”

This is a good point – what incentive is there for Android smartphone makers, who already operate on very thin margins and see Google and other OTTs hoover up most of the subsequence service revenue, to invest in something that has little apparent effect on sales? The main commercial answer would have to be brand reputation and things like NPS. Presumably prompt updates to yield some ongoing brand benefits and at least increase customer loyalty to some extent.

“High-priced devices are often updated first, but having the latest software is as important to mid- and low-priced products as it is to flagship devices,” said Abhilash Kumar of Counterpoint. “We, therefore, looked at manufacturers’ performance at updating software across all price tiers. By this analysis, Nokia stands out, again, as the brand most likely to update its full portfolio quickly.

Xiaomi and Lenovo also rank high in this metric. Brands like Alcatel and Tecno are the laggards. This is because these brands have broad portfolios, mostly in the sub-US$200 segment, and the lifecycle of their models tends to be short. Their products often transition from launch to end-of-life in as little as six months, which means they have less incentive to provide long-term updates.”

It seems likely that most brands are fairly prompt in updating their flagship devices but many drag their feet when it comes to the cheaper ones. As well as the reasons detailed above there’s the fact that the cheaper a device the more commo0ditised it is, making anything other than the core hardware feature set even less of a factor in purchasing decisions. That makes Samsung’s performance especially impressive since it has such a large device portfolio across all price tiers.

Ericsson and Nokia up their R&D game to compound Huawei misery

Whenever Huawei is facing scrutiny, rivals simply have to sit back and reap the benefits, though Ericsson and Nokia are upping the focus on research and development to compound the gains.

This is the opportunity which is being presented to Huawei’s rivals. When it is banned from certain markets, there is a gain. When there are security concerns shown, there is a gain. When there are questions about the resilience of the supply chain, there is a gain. All the likes of Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung have to do is sit back and do what they have been doing for years. The worse beating Huawei takes, the better their alternative looks.

What is clear is these companies will have to be as careful when capitalising on the misfortune, tip toeing over broken glass as gunfire rages overhead. Just look at the trouble Nokia CTO Marcus Weldon got himself in when criticising Huawei a couple of months back.

However, looking more closely at the financial reports of the rivals, there is perhaps evidence of an attempt to compound the gains by increasing R&D investments. There are of course numerous reasons why this would be done.

Firstly, if Huawei is considered the market leader for radio and transmission equipment, this is an opportunity to close the gap. Secondly, this is a chance to seize the initiative in the 5G race while the reputation of Huawei is picking up dents. Looking at the numbers, this story becomes a bit more apparent.

Vendor R&D investment as % of total revenues
Huawei c.15%
ZTE 14.9%
Nokia 21.2%
Ericsson 18%

The numbers above are taken for the first six months of 2019. Huawei hasn’t given numbers for the first half, only a full year commitment, so this is more of a rough guess. Samsung does not break-out financials for its network equipment division, keeping up its reputation for being less-than-transparent, so it is difficult to offer a comparison.

Including Samsung with the other four major network infrastructure providers might raise some eyebrows, but with a strong 5G RAN product Samsung now deserves to dine at the top table according to Heavy Reading Analyst Gabriel Brown, particularly in markets where it has made long-term, sustained investment in R&D and in customer support, such as the US, India and South Korea.

After years of investment and working to meet customer requirements, the US market offers promise to Samsung. Without Huawei and ZTE in the game, operators are looking for credible alternatives to the Nokia and Ericsson duopoly in RAN, while its Korean domestic market clearly offers some wins. There is a clear opportunity for growth, though as Brown points out, there are other considerations.

In terms of the 5G RAN, Samsung has competitive base station products according to Brown. However, it doesn’t necessarily have the breadth of portfolio, relationships or footprint to compete globally. Brown stated this is often an area which is underestimated and is expensive to build-up and maintain. Outside of its priority markets Samsung does not have the local support that telcos have come to expect nor the long-term in-country presence that gives operators confidence to do business.

However, it is still an opportunity, with the team is making the right noises, producing the right demonstrations and making the right connections to grow and claim market share.

The numbers above are taken for the first six months of 2019. Huawei hasn’t given numbers for the first half, only a full year commitment, so this is more of a rough guess. Samsung does not break-out financials for its 5G network equipment division, keeping up its reputation for being less-than-transparent, so it is difficult to offer a comparison.

Including Samsung with the other four major network infrastructure providers might raise a few eyebrows but work done over the last few years has raised their game. According to Heavy Reading Analyst Gabriel Brown, Samsung now deserves to dine at the top table, with strong focus on the US, India and South Korea.

Samsung is a company which is clearly benefiting from the Huawei misery. The US is a market which will offer promise to Samsung, though it will have some difficulties considering an ex-CEO of Ericsson is in charge at Verizon, while its domestic market clearly offers some wins. There is a clear opportunity for growth, though as Brown points out, there are other considerations.

In terms of the 5G base station product, Samsung is up there with the best according to Brown, though as it doesn’t necessarily have the relationships or product inventory in place it might struggle in certain areas. Brown stated this is often an area which is underestimated, as Samsung may well struggle to meet the timelines demanded by telcos in Switzerland or Columbia (for example). It doesn’t have the ‘feet on the ground’ or scaled manufacturing experience of its rivals, an element many telcos will have come to expect.

However, it is still an opportunity and the team is making the right noises, producing the right figures and making the right connections to grow and claim market share.

Back to the R&D investments, this is an important metric to judge vendors by and will gain interest from potential customers. At Ericsson, the 18.7% ratio invested in R&D is certainly an increase from the 14% and 15% it spent in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Nokia’s investments are also up from this period, though it has consistently hovered around this level. As a percentage of net sales, R&D accounted for 20.5% and 21.2% for 2018 and 2017 respectively at Nokia.

Although both of these firms are leaping ahead when it comes to the percentage, another factor that you have to take into account is that Huawei is spending more in real terms.

Vendor Total R&D investment in US$
Huawei $8.38 billion
ZTE $900 million
Ericsson $1.93 billion
Nokia $2.53 billion

While Huawei is vastly exceeding the amount spent by its rivals, it has a much broader scope. Ericsson focuses on mobile predominantly, while Nokia has both mobile and fixed businesses, as well as licencing payments from its former glory days as a leading mobile phone manufacturer.

Huawei has its fingers in a lot more pies. Not only does it focus on both mobile and fixed, it also has a subsea cable business and an enterprise unit, while the consumer group is now the largest contributor to total revenues. Looking at the consumer unit alone, Huawei will be investing R&D funds into smartphones, laptops, wearable devices and a new operating system to potentially replace Google’s Android.

This $8.38 billion figure should always be considered when comparing the R&D investments from all the rivals, but it should also be weighed against the broader business exposure Huawei as.

There are of course numerous factors to consider when judging who is winning the 5G race, geopolitical trends are close to the top of the list, but the percentage of revenues being attributed to R&D is another very important one. Although these numbers do not tell the whole story, perhaps it does indicate rivals are attempting to make the most of Huawei’s misery while they have a chance.

HMD Global joins the 5G surge with new Nokia phone

HMD Global is the latest to join the surge in device manufacturers to enter the 5G fray, with the Nokia brand set to deliver a more reasonably-priced device.

Although Apple is steering clear of the surge to capture the attention of early adopters, it does traditionally like to take its time, HMD Global will attempt to cut through the 5G noise with its Nokia-branded device. And like its previous device launches, the phone will be cheaper than others on the market.

According to Digital Trends, HMD Global’s device will be launched in 2020, aiming to cost roughly half of what is available on the market. Although that statement does leave some wiggle-room, it might attract attention from the more cash-conscious consumer.

Device Cost
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G $1,299
Huawei Mate X $2,600 (unconfirmed)
LG V50 ThinQ 5G $1,152
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G c.£550-650
Oppo Reno 5G $835
Apple ??? but presumably it will be eye-watering expensive to bleed the iLifers dry

There is an opportunity to undercut the market on price, but it will have to compete on performance. Like anything in the technology world, performance is becoming increasingly important. Will the HMD Global device dance good? Can it take home the trophy?

“We see a particular opportunity for us in bringing 5G to a more affordable segment as we enter the market,” said Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer for HMD in the Digital Trends interview. “I would say affordable in relation to what’s available today. I would love to see us at half of the price where you have 5G today.”

Of course, it matters very little how many people have the devices unless there are the networks to support them, however, as 5G becomes more of a reality it is important all demographics are catered for. Currently, 5G looks like a product designed for the wealthy. There might be more accessible data tariffs hitting the market, but the devices remain out of the financial reach of many.

HMD has built a reputation on capturing attention through nostalgia, though the launch of smartphones in recent months is taking the firm into what more would consider the norm of today. If HMD Global can manage to product a product which performs to the expectations of today’s consumer, while also being friendlier to the wallet, it could be a game-changer.

Interestingly enough, this could present a new challenge to the telcos; an over-subscription on the 5G networks.

This is a challenge which was faced at the beginning of the 4G era. Because the service was so much better than internet services offered before, adoption of 4G was incredibly rapid. One would hope network loading is a consideration of the telcos, assuming lessons have been learnt, however they might have believed there would be a bit more breathing room.

This is a difficult equation to balance, though it will be needed to ensure a mass rollout of 5G. This pricing disruption might be coming sooner than many of the mainstream device manufacturers were hoping for.