In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

Not too often does even the biggest bit of thinking by a research and development organization actually wind up adopted at a high commercial level.

Nokia now is calling its 5G platform”Future X,” referring to the reference silicon design and the 5G network itself. Here is what is notable about the nomenclature. The phrase “Future X” actually comes out of Nokia Bell Labs, the research and development unit, and specifically from the title of the first book ever published by Nokia Bell Labs, The Future X Network, written by Bell Labs President Marcus Weldon.

In choosing the name, Nokia also suggests its strategy. The Future X Network will have to deliver different value, Weldon and the team of contributors argues.  Most fundamentally, the value of the network will not be “connectivity.”

“Free” Wi-Fi illustrates the problem. At a recent industry conference, the audience saw a slide illustrating the telecom industry new value proposition, and laughter erupted. It erupted because at the base of the value chain was the phrase “free Wi-Fi.”

Acknowledging the mirth, Weldon suggested that was because the audience of telecom professionals understood very well what was happening.

Simply, the thesis is that value will be created by the network to the extent that it “creates time” for people and augments human intelligence. That might sound ethereal, but the point is that to survive, much less thrive, the global telecom industry will have to find a way to create an entirely new value proposition, one not based on connectivity.

It is challenging in the extreme. So what is noteworthy is that Nokia has chosen to name its entire 5G platform the “the Future X platform,” encompasses eight major technologies, including Nokia 5G New Radio, AirScale Radio Access, 5G AirScale Active Antennas, 5G Small Cells, 5G Anyhaul, 5G Core, Massive Scale Access and 5G Acceleration Services.

Congratulations to Bell Labs professionals who have been able to take a big idea and get it into commercial use at a high level. Best wishes to Nokia in its effort to make the platform concrete.

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