The vendor says that refarming low band radio and integrating it with mid- or high-band time division duplex (TDD) spectrum is a low cost, quick fix.
Nokia said operators can upgrade their 4G radios to 5G New Radio (NR) using automated software, without dispatching engineers to base station sites or replacing any equipment.
The company claims this will save European operators billions of euros, and that the software can support about 1 million radios now, with this number rising to 3.1 million by the end of this year and over 5 million in 2021.
The thud in FDD
Nokia explained that most 5G/NR installation involve TDD cmWave and TDD mmWave, but the next phase roll-outs will rely on refarming frequency division duplex (FDD) bands for 5G/NR.
Hence upgrading 4G and LTE radios using software will make a dramatic difference to the deployment of 5G NR FDD and the economics too.
TDD spectrum provides wider coverage and greater capacity when combined with deployed FDD infrastructure and spectrum bands through aggregating TDD and FDD.
Ahead of the game?
Chris Nicoll, Principal Analyst at ACG Research, said, "While Open RAN promises software upgradability to ease transitions between ‘Gs’ and add new features, Nokia’s Flexi and AirScale portfolio shows it is ahead of the game by providing a software upgrade to transition over 5 million 4G radios to 5G.
“Efficient FDD spectrum refarming is critical for fast, broad and deep 5G deployments. With Nokia supplying the majority of the world’s top 4G operators, supporting key advanced features such as DSS helps those operators lead with 5G.”