Nokia unveils new ReefShark chipsets as part of 5G strategy

29 Jan 2018

Blacktip reef shark. Image: 22August/Shutterstock

Nokia claims the new ReefShark chipsets meet major 5G network demands.

Nokia has launched a new end-to-end 5G network architecture, which will be showcased at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February. The network platform, known as ‘Future X’, will be powered by the company’s brand new ReefShark chipset.

ReefShark to increase speed

The company claims deploying ReefShark chipsets for radio frequency in massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) will halve the size of antennas and cut baseband unit power consumption by 64pc.

The ReefShark chipsets are said to triple capacity to 84 gigabits per second from 28 gigabits in Nokia’s existing chip modules and the modules can be stacked to allow a single cell tower or base station to handle up to 6 terabits per second.

The chipsets are set to ship in volume in the third quarter of the year and can be inserted into Nokia’s existing AirScale family of 4G and 5G-ready network gear, which is software upgradeable to full 5G functionality.

Bell Labs AI integration

Artificial intelligence innovations from Nokia Bell Labs are incorporated in the design of the chipsets along with Nokia’s existing antenna development capabilities for base stations and mobile devices.

Henri Tervonen, CTO of Nokia Mobile Networks and head of R&D foundation, said: “With ReefShark, Nokia has created a clear competitive advantage. Its combination of power, intelligence and efficiency make it ideally suited to be at the heart of fast-arriving 5G networks.”

President of mobile networks at Nokia, Marc Rouanne, discussed the 5G Future X portfolio: “The Future X architecture invented by our Nokia Bell Labs research has made it possible to mix the knowledge across Nokia, between IP, optics, RF, software and innovative in-house silicon. We now expect to be able to deliver unprecedented capabilities and efficiencies that will allow our customers to transform their service offering for 5G.”

Nokia is collaborating with 30 operators using ReefShark chipsets. Neil McRae, chief architect of BT, said: “By incorporating ReefShark into our network we will leverage the huge network performance improvements that will allow us to unleash the full potential of 5G.”

A national 5G network for the US?

5G progress around the world is rather staggered, with operators in the US, South Korea and Japan preparing mainstream network launches in 2018 and 2019, while the EU is planning for full urban 5G deployment by 2025.

According to documents obtained by Axios, the Trump administration is considering a federal takeover of portions of the US’s mobile broadband networks. The documents cite safeguarding against Chinese cybersecurity and economic threats as a driver for the potential plan.

The option of a centralised 5G network in the US is one that may be considered, which would be an unprecedented move in the country’s historically privately run communications industry.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects