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Nokia to build 5G test network in Oulu

Finnish mobile technology company Nokia plans to build a high-speed 5G data transfer test network. The company has already made a decision-in-principle on the matter and named two staffers to take forward construction of the network, with actual testing to begin early next year.

Lähikuva metallisesta Nokian kyltistä Espooni Keilaniemessä.
Image: Yle

While a commitment-in-principle has already been made, a formal decision on construction of the high-speed 5G network won’t come until autumn, said Nokia technical director Juha Määttä.

When asked about the construction schedule for the network, Määttä said that it could begin early in 2015. According to the technical chief, the City and University of Oulu as well as the Finnish Technical Research Centre VTT will also participate in the project.

New life for Oulu?

Decision makers in Oulu participating in the innovation event Northern Glow on Friday said the development of the 5G test network could be just the shot in the arm that Oulu needs to reclaim its reputation as a major ICT hub.

“In the 1990s Oulu already had the expertise required for the early stages of basic 3G technology. Later on the Defence Force needed a software radio project: Elektrobit benefited from this,” recalled Matti Latva-aho, head of Oulu University’s Centre for Wireless Communications.

“We need a project to work on together and to set the bar sufficiently high. We’d then take a giant step together, but we’d need billion-euro funding,” he added

Nokia’s Määttä said that the 5G network project is an aggressive move forward.

“It won’t be just one product, but there would be an entire ecosystem around it. We also have to develop the user experience. In this way people will see that they will have limitless capacity at their disposal,” he explained.

5G at heart of Internet of Things

According to Määtta the idea behind the 5G network is to create an invisible data network that users wouldn’t have to activate separately and that would suffer only the smallest of delays.

“2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, it’s the sum of many parts,” Määttä noted.

The so-called Internet of Things, meaning the inter-connectedness of and communication between devices and objects could also open new doors for the Oulu region. The 5G network would be the backbone of this development because of the need for massive data transfers, Määttä explained.

On Friday, former Nokia technology partner and software giant Microsoft announced the termination of 1,050 jobs in Finland as part of the company's largest-ever restructuring exercise. Part of the change involves shuttering a research and development plant in Oulu. Although final job cut targets are to be announced later, Microsoft hopes to implement all of the redundancies by the end of the year.

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