Monday, 20 September 2021 11:07

Nokia has recommenced participation in the O-RAN Alliance Featured

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Nokia president of mobile networks division Tommi Uitto Nokia president of mobile networks division Tommi Uitto

The O-RAN Alliance has issued a statement that it remains fully committed to its mission of delivering open, intelligent, virtualised and fully interoperable RAN. 

The O-RAN Alliance said it became aware of concerns regarding some participants that may be subject to U.S. export regulations, and has been working with O-RAN participants to address these concerns. The O-RAN Board has approved changes to O-RAN participation documents and procedures. While it is up to each O-RAN participant to make their own evaluation of these changes, O-RAN is optimistic that the changes will address the concerns and facilitate O-RAN’s mission, the Alliance said.

This statement came after the much publicised withdrawal of Nokia from contributing to the O-RAN Alliance.

On the back of the O-RAN Alliance changes, Nokia president of mobile networks division Tommi Uitto, in a blog said, "We welcome the encouraging news that the O-RAN ALLIANCE has announced changes to its O-RAN participation documents and procedures, ensuring technical activities can continue in compliance with U.S. law.

"This important announcement enables us to get back to the exciting work we had to pause. Nokia’s technical contribution to the alliance restarts right now, right where it left off with energy, determination and that same unwavering commitment to O-RAN."

Uitto went on to say, "Nokia’s commitment to both O-RAN and the O-RAN ALLIANCE, of which we were the first major vendor to join, remains just as strong today as it did when we first leaned in to these initiatives. Indeed, Nokia was the first large, established supplier to endorse and help to found the O-RAN ALLIANCE when it consisted of only five operators. Today, 26 of the 29 CSPs in the alliance are Nokia customers."

The O-RAN Alliance needs major vendor participation in order to succeed. Large CSPs will use one of the larger vendors as their main supplier and as Uitto mentions, 26 out of 29 CSPs in the alliance are Nokia customers. For those 26 CSPs, Nokia's co-operation will allow more flexible RAN solutions to be deployed at lower risk and integration cost.

Uitto's blog also outlines the extent of Nokia's technical participation in the O-RAN Alliance.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 15 September 2021.

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    Nokia announced a claimed Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) breakthrough which could see wireless broadband capacity increase by 5 to 10 times.

    Nokia says its engineers have used a novel approach to make 5G mmWave fixed wireless access viable. Since mmWave requires line-of-sight to operate, signals can easily be disrupted by outdoor or in-home obstacles. Nokia’s 360 High Gain technology, announced on the eve of Broadband World Forum, overcomes the challenge by both amplifying available signals and dynamically finding the strongest connection.

    Fixed Wireless Access broadband devices typically use 4G or 5G mobile signals for high speed home connectivity. Most 5G FWA deployments today leverage low band (sub 2Ghz) or mid band (2-6 Ghz) radio frequencies, but as FWA networks develop, additional spectrum will be needed to drive future growth, Nokia says.

    Operators are now looking to increase speeds by using even more frequencies, notably from the high band spectrum known as mmWave (24 GHz to 40 GHz). However, higher radio frequencies have propagation challenges as they are more likely to be impeded by physical obstacles.

    Nokia says its 360 High Gain 5G mmWave technology captures a 360 mmWave fingerprint of the indoor environment, picks up direct and reflected signals from any direction, and adapts to the changing environment, through advanced analytics.

    {loadposition chris08}

    Mobile Experts principal analyst Kyung Mun said “Fixed Wireless Access is on the rise. It will represent almost $15 billion market cumulatively over the next five years and the mmWave-enabled 5G customer premise equipment will make up 80% by 2026.”

    Nokia president fixed networks Sandy Motley said “Making indoor, self-installable mmWave FWA viable in an urban indoor environment is crucial for FWA growth. The addition of mmWave to the 5G FWA market will deliver the 5 to 10 times more capacity that is needed to support the ever more demanding subscribers and services. I am extremely proud of our Fixed Network team who have notched up yet another technical first”.

    Nokia says it has validated the 360 High Gain 5G mmWave FWA technology in its research labs, and technology trials are ongoing in various urban environments. Volume deployments will start in 2023 and are expected to focus initially on operators with subscribers in dense urban environments where high speeds and high capacity is essential for market penetration, Nokia asserts.

    There is a significant cost in connecting fixed wireless customers, this cost might well be lowered by this Nokia solution. For example the wireless customer terminals installed by NBN and most other fixed wireless operators are external, mounted to facia boards or roof-top poles. Generally an ethernet cable will provide both power and connectivity to an ethernet switch or router that is conveniently installed indoors. The external unit must be engineered to withstand external weather conditions and requires a professional installer to mount and align it to maximise signal strength. In my experience the cost of the CPE and the installation can be upwards of $1,000, so not insignificant.

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    With mmWave the amount of spectrum that carriers have is multiples of all their low and mid-band spectrum, and the cost paid per MHz is much lower. The need to be spectrally efficient in deployment isn't as prevalent, due to the relatively high bandwidths of spectrum. With that in mind the Nokia solution will reduce the cost of connecting fixed wireless customers, if the cost of the terminals isn't excessive, and the solution can be reliably self-installed.

    For those interested in more technical details, Nokia has a white paper that can be downloaded here.

    This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 13 October 2021.

  • Republican senators call for blacklisting former Huawei low-end unit, Honor

    Three Republican senators have called for blacklisting Honor Device, a low-budget smartphone firm that was formerly owned by Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies.

    Marco Rubio and Rick Scott (both from Florida) and John Cormyn (Texas) said in a letter to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that by not adding Honor to the Entity List, "the Biden Administration is allowing a commercial arm of the Chinese Communist Party to evade American export controls and exploit our technological sector".

    Huawei, whose top-end smartphone business has been crippled by American sanctions, sold Honor to a consortium of 30 dealers and agents, operating under the name Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, for an unspecified sum in November last year.

    “Through a state-administered transaction of Huawei assets to a Shenzhen government-owned firm, Beijing has effectively dodged a critical American export control,” the three senators wrote.

    {loadposition sam08}“By failing to act in response, the Department of Commerce risks setting a dangerous precedent and communicating to adversaries that we lack the capacity or willpower to punish blatant financial engineering by an authoritarian regime.

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    There have been reports earlier this year that the Pentagon and Energy Department wanted to blacklist Honor, while the Commerce Department and the State Department were opposed.

    In September this year, as iTWire reported, Honor became the third highest selling device in China, overtaking Xiaomi. Tarun Pathak, research director of the technology analyst firm Counterpoint Research, commented at the time: ""After being spun off from Huawei, Honor was able to restore ties with component players. Since then, leveraging its strong R&D capabilities, Honor has launched new products and has been on a rapid recovery path in China.

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    The US has been on the warpath against Huawei for nearly three years now, with its actions in the main aimed against the company's 5G business. Huawei is one among four companies — the others being China's ZTE Corporation, Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia — that can provide end-to-end equipment for 5G networks.

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    On top of that, new export control rules were imposed by the US Government in August 2020 and these made it well-nigh impossible for Huawei to obtain the SoCs it needs to build its flagship smartphones.

    In January, Huawei had to scotch rumours that it was planning to sell its P and Mate flagship smartphone divisions, which would mean the company's exit from the premium smartphone business.

    In February this year, as iTWire reported, Huawei was expected to manufacture between 70 million and 80 million units, about a 60% decline from the 189 million units made in 2020.

    Rubio, Scott and Cormyn added: "Soon after its separation from Huawei, the Chinese firm [Honor] began cutting deals with several American companies to purchase high-tech chips."

    They said Zhao Ming, a president at Huawei, "had retained his role as head of the newly independent Honor, while numerous other executives, engineers, and other employees from Huawei similarly migrated over".

    The trio said: "Zhao has boasted 'We are proud… to reintroduce Honor to the global market,' noting that future Honor products will come equipped with Google Mobile Services. CCP [Chinese Communist Party] propaganda outlet China Daily has reported that the company is 'quickly re-establishing strategic partnerships with some of the world's top suppliers'.”

  • Nokia and MediaTek achieve world first with Carrier Aggregation delivering 3.2 Gbps end-user speeds
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    Nokia and MediaTek announced that they have achieved a world’s first by successfully aggregating 5G Standalone (5G SA) spectrum using 3 Components Carrier (3CC) aggregation. This increases the sub-6Ghz 5G spectrum utilisation by combining 210MHz of FDD and TDD spectrum more efficiently to reach 3.2Gbps peak downlink throughput.

    The move will enable communication service providers to deliver higher throughputs and better coverage to more customers, the companies said.

    To achieve this performance, Nokia supplied its latest AirScale equipment including its AirScale 5G SA architecture powered by its ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) technology as well as its cloud-native 5G core. MediaTek provided its new M80 5G modem which combines mmWave and sub-6 GHz capabilities onto a single chip as well as the user equipment testing platform, the companies explained.

    Carrier Aggregation combines frequency bands for higher rates and increased coverage, delivering superior network capacity by maximising the spectral efficiency of 5G networks. Frequency division duplex (FDD) in 600MHz (n71) is a lower frequency band that provides a wide coverage area, improving cell edge performance. Time-division duplex (TDD) in 2600MHz (n41) has higher bandwidth and capacity. The combination of these spectrum bands supports a range of 5G deployment scenarios including indoor as well enhanced outdoor coverage. The high-band sub-6Ghz spectrum bands support high-capacity and extreme mobile broadband capabilities, the companies stated.

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    MediaTek general manager wireless communication system and partnerships JS Pan said, “This test demonstrates the importance of carrier aggregation in enabling mobile operators around the world to deliver best-in-class speed and capacity to their subscribers.

    "The combination of Nokia’s AirScale portfolio and our technology boosts the possibilities of spectrum assets and 5G networks. We look forward to continuing to partner with Nokia to advance the 5G ecosystem.”

    Nokia SVP radio access networks Mark Atkinson said, “Nokia continues to drive the 5G ecosystem by delivering new and important innovations. This validation test demonstrates how mobile operators can maximise their spectrum allocations and deliver enhanced coverage and capacity to subscribers.

    "Nokia is committed to pushing the boundaries of 5G and delivering industry-leading performance. High-capacity Carrier Aggregation combinations can be achieved in both 5G Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) based on our scalable Airscale Baseband architecture.”

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  • Nokia launches first off-the-shelf, mission-critical Industrial Edge to accelerate the enterprise journey to Industry 4.0

    Nokia announced it has launched what it calls the industry’s first cloud-native, mission-critical industrial edge solution to allow enterprises to accelerate their operational technology (OT) digitalisation initiatives and advance their journey to Industry 4.0.

    The new  Nokia  MX Industrial Edge is a scalable application and compute solution designed to meet the mission-critical digital transformation needs of asset-intensive industries such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation, Nokia said. It combines compute, storage, wired/wireless networking, one-click industrial applications and automated management onto a unified, on-premise OT digital transformation platform.

    Industry 4.0 requires widespread digitalisation and connectivity of equipment, machines and other assets in industrial environments. Due to the volume and velocity of data generated, and the need for real-time automation, increasingly data needs to be processed at the edge – close to where it is generated. By 2025, Gartner predicts that 75% of industrial data will be processed at the edge, the company stated.  

    Nokia says that by adopting its MX Industrial Edge, enterprises will benefit from an on-premise cloud architecture that unifies edge requirements in an easy-to-use, deploy everywhere, as-a-service package. The company states that it removes the complexity, knowledge, and economic hurdles typically associated with deployment, integration and life cycle management of high-performance compute applications and mission-critical networking. 

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    The platform’s extreme scalability enables multi-facility enterprises, such as logistics companies, to deploy the same technology in all their locations, whether large or small, making the benefits of ‘develop-once, deploy-everywhere’ a reality. The Nokia MX Industrial Edge is powered by the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (Nokia DAC), providing the enterprise a single pane of glass user experience to manage everything from applications to private wireless networking, Nokia continued. 

    Nokia head of enterprise solutions Stephan Litjens said,  "Industry 4.0 is transforming asset-intensive industries by integrating and digitalising all processes and systems across the industrial value chain. This will result in an explosion of data – and taking the right actions based on that data in near real-time will be critical to the success of digital transformation initiatives. 

    "Ensuring performance, along with aspects like keeping data local and secure while being resilient against internet connectivity failures, are not possible with a centralised cloud, making the on-prem edge the architecture of choice for this new breed of OT applications. 

    "The Nokia MX Industrial Edge is built from the ground up to deliver the guaranteed performance, security and reliability that OT digitalisation use cases require," Litjens said. 

    Analysys Mason research director Caroline Chappell https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-chappell-89898a11/ said: “Enterprises are increasingly focusing their digital transformation efforts on the application of software and cloud capabilities to operational technologies (OT) to reap the benefits of agility and cost-efficiency in asset-intensive industrial environments.

    "Enterprises need on-premise edge clouds, like the Nokia MX Industrial Edge, to provide secure, resilient, and high-performance execution environments for mission-critical OT applications.

    "Enterprises will be looking for an edge cloud solution partner that can tap into a broad ecosystem of cloud stack and industrial application vendors, understand their stringent operational needs, data sovereignty requirements, and which can bring a deep knowledge of the network to an increasingly complex, connected industrial landscape," Chappell concluded.  

    Nokia said its edge solution is also available for enterprises in combination with Nokia Digital Automation Cloud applications, such as High Accuracy Indoor Positioning, Plug and Play private wireless, or with Nokia's alternative private wireless solution, Nokia Modular Private Wireless (MPW). Flexible consumption-based pricing models provide 'pay as you grow' subscription flexibility while minimising upfront investments.  

    Nokia MX Industrial Edge comes in a variety of configurations to support small, medium, and large-scale industrial deployments. Based on the Nokia AirFrame Open Edge server, leveraging Intel’s latest innovations and CPU for high-capacity processing, the Nokia edge solution is designed for compute-intensive tasks and advanced AI/Machine Learning (ML) workloads optionally supported through graphic processing unit (GPU) support. In addition, high-performance network interface cards (NICs) and packet processing systems scale to support very large 5G standalone (SA) private wireless traffic flows. It offers extreme resilience and reliability through an end-to-end, high availability (HA) architecture, supports geographical redundancy (GR) for business continuity, and the guaranteed performance is assured via integrated orchestration features for service performance management. 

    Intel vice president network platforms group and GM network business incubation division Caroline Chan said, “Nokia and Intel have a long-standing partnership to provide innovative solutions from the core to the edge of the intelligent network, which Nokia is expanding to accelerate Industry 4.0 adoption.

    The combination of Intel’s innovations and CPUs alongside Nokia’s MX Industrial Edge Platform and 5G technology will offer enterprise customers the ability to connect, deploy and manage their environments. Across different verticals, enterprises will benefit from the scalable performance and high-speed, low-latency reliable communications,” Chan concluded. 

    Nokia says enterprise customers can accelerate their OT digitalisation initiatives with the one-click deployment of industrial applications on the MX Industrial Edge. The catalog contains Nokia applications for a variety of common digitalisation use cases and is complemented by applications from independent software vendors (ISV) which undergo an onboarding process testing reliability, performance, and security.

    In addition, Nokia's ecosystem-neutral approach also enables industrial customers to take advantage of edge cloud compatible applications present in hyper-scale clouds, as well as industrial partner clouds, the company stated. 

    The MX Industrial Edge also simplifies southbound IIoT system integration complexity with its Industrial connectors providing industrial data protocols translation, and with the Nokia Integrated Operations Center that provides a single pane of glass view from all systems as well as helping create industrial automation workflows, the company concluded.

    Litjens added: “All industrial and enterprise campuses, such as factories, logistics hubs, ports, etc. are multi-solution and multi-partner environments. By adopting an ecosystem-neutral approach and integration plug-ins, our customers get unparalleled flexibility and benefit from the widest array of applications and use cases to adopt innovations to advance their digital transformation.”  

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  • HMD Global launches new $349 Nokia T20 Android tablet, and new $449 G50 5G smartphone

    The first Nokia tablet running Android is the T20, and with a 2K 10.4-inch screen and 64GB storage aims to be an affordable and long-lasting Android alternative to competitors and iPads, while the new G50 5G smartphone is the latest 5G model to enter the Australian market.

    As we are now firmly in Q4, 2021, the plethora of tech launches continues, with HMD Global the latest to launch brand new models to tempt the hearts, minds and wallets of Australians.

    As the company explains, both devices "are designed to keep up with the busy lives of Australians and are backed by Nokia’s industry-leading three year warranty promise."

    So, let's start with the Nokia T20, which is billed as "a tablet designed for work, learn and play."

    When it comes to tablets, there's the iPad, with its million-plus apps designed for the iPad, and then there's Android tablets, which haven't been quite as popular, but which are able to run the vast array of Android apps - and which can be more affordable.

    While you can find Laser-branded 8-inch Android tablets for less than $100 at Officeworks, Samsung's Android tablets are the ones most people think of first, given Samsung's long-standing efforts in this space, while Lenovo Android tablets are also well regarded.

    Now, HMD Global comes into this space with its Nokia T20 tablet, billed as marking the introduction of the brand new T Series, with T obviously standing for tablet, and with the Nokia T20 obviously having nothing to do with the cricket.

    Naturally, HMD Global says the T20 "has been designed with work-life balance in mind incorporating the versatility and reliability expected from a Nokia device, coupled with a long-lasting battery."

    As you'd expect, HMD Global offers what it says is "Nokia’s industry-leading three year warranty as well as three years of monthly security updates and two years of OS upgrade", thus making the Nokia T20 a tablet that "Australians can Love, Trust and Keep for longer."

    Here's the official video:

    So, what are some of the features?

    Well, it is a Wi-Fi only tablet in Australia, and has a 2K 10.4-inch screen with a resolution of 1200 x 2000, it has 4GB RAM with 64GB storage, and the microSD slot can take a 512GB card. It has Android 11, a Unisoc-branded T610 CPU that presumably has enough grunt to deliver upon the Google Kids Space and Google Entertainment Space promises.

    Nokia bills the device as allowing you to “participate in conference calls or binge-watch their favourite shows for up to seven hours with the Nokia T20’s long-lasting battery. Hear and be heard at home or on-the-go with the Nokia T20’s stereo speakers and OZO Playback Panorama with advanced in-built dual microphones.”

    We’re also told the Nokia T20 is “the perfect device for the family too. Google Kids Space is designed to nurture a child’s curiosity and creativity by inspiring them to explore their interests through recommended apps, books, and videos. Google Kids Spaceworks is added to your child’s Google Account and allows parents to manage using Family Link parental controls.

    “The Nokia T20 is a smart choice f”or businesses being Android Enterprise Recommended (AER) meeting Google’s strict criteria for enterprise mobility. The new tablet also works in harmony with HMD Enable Pro, the enterprise mobility management solution designed for ease of use and managing deployed devices from its one-stop-shop interface.”

    Now, it does have to be said that the AUD $499 10.2-inch, 9th-gen iPad, also with 64GB storage (but no expandable memory as is the case with all of Appke’s iDevices) has a vastly more powerful A13 Bionic processor, and if you’re already an iPhone-owning family, an iPad is obviously a great choice, not least because of the ability to share apps across the family.

    You also do get the expandability through the ability to buy an Apple Pencil, let alone add keyboard and mouse (with keyboard and mouse control also possible with any Android tablet), as well as a very rich library of apps and app experiences designed to take full advantage of the various iPad screen sizes and superior processors and graphics. Its front-facing camera also has the "Centre Stage" feature which is like having your own camera person, and it's a cool feature we'll presumably copied by Android tablets next year. 

    However, all of that said, Android has always competed on price, and on delivering a more than “good enough” alternative experience for most purposes, and without having tested the T20, presumably it does everything Nokia promises it will do, with upcoming reviews from across the tech world sure to deliver a verdict in the not-too-distant future.

    At $349 it is an affordable alternative that lets Android smartphone and tablet owners share apps via the Google Play Family Library as well. It also undercuts the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 which is $429 for its 64GB Wi-Fi model, so HMD Global brings welcome competition as well.

    James Robinson, the A/NZ Country Manager at HMD Global said: “The Nokia T20 marks an incredibly important milestone for HMD Global with our very first tablet. Over the past two years in Australia, we’ve experienced an increase in working from home, online learning and the growing use of social media, video calling platforms and streaming services.

    “All of this has contributed to a significant uplift in demand for tablets, with 3.4 million sold in 2020, a 12 per cent increase on the previous year. The Nokia T20 is a tablet that has been designed specifically to reflect and address the changing needs and desire for versatile technology that Australians have become accustomed to.

    “We believe this device serves the needs of busy families, as well as providing businesses an affordable yet power business tool with Zero Touch deployment. At HMD we’re committed to Nokians keeping their devices for longer and extending our industry leading three year manufacturer’s warranty to the Nokia T20,” Robinson concluded.

    So, what about the Nokia G50, which the company is billing as its most affordable 5G smartphone?

    Well, right off the bat, the Nokia G50 retails for $449, so it costs $100 more than TCL’s 20 R 5G, which retails for $349, with that TCL 20 R 5G even available at $50 less, at $299, if purchased from Vodafone.

    However, the G50 has a larger screen at 6.82-inches, double the storage with 128GB as standard, and will launch with Android 12 out-of-the-box, with HMD Global billing it as “the most affordable 5G device in its range, allowing more Australians access to 5G at a time when major carriers are rapidly expanding the capabilities and coverage of 5G nationally.”

    “Featuring the signature Finnish design quality Nokia is known for, the 6.82” HD+ display will give Nokians an exceptional viewing experience. The Nokia G50 is built to last, launching with Android 12 welcoming Google’s latest OS advancements.

    “Additionally, the Nokia G50 will keep Aussies up-to-date with an extra two years of OS upgrades and monthly security updates for at least three years. This offers complete protection and peace of mind while a two day battery life and three year warranty allows Aussies to keep their devices longer and trust that the Nokia G50 will see them through the most demanding of days.”

    Here's the official video:

    To sweeten the deal, we’re reminded of HMD Global’s recent partnership with “two industry-leading brands, Spotify and ExpressVPN, enabling Nokia G50 owners a quicker way to access their favourite content. Spotify gives Nokia G50 owners access to 70 million tracks and 2.6 million podcasts out of the box. Offering added reassurance against malware, ExpressVPN is also available with a 30-day free trial.

    See more details of HMD Global’s deals with Spotify here and ExpressVPN here.

    HMD Global’s A/NZ Country Manager, James Robinson returns to state: “As 5G develops and becomes more accessible to more Australians, HMD Global expands choice of our trusted Nokia 5G range, making 5G more accessible to more Aussies. We at HMD believe that Aussies should be able to keep their devices for longer; as such, the Nokia G50 comes with our hallmark commitments to OS upgrades, security patching, and an Australian first – three year manufacturer’s warranty.”

    Florian Seiche, CEO at HMD Global: “At HMD Global we’re always striving to provide everyone with quality mobile technology, which is why we’re incredibly proud to launch the Nokia G50, a 5G device that it built to last at an incredibly affordable price.”

    Pricing and availability\

    The Nokia T20 in Ocean Blue (4GB/64GB variant) will be on sale for $349 RRP, and available from today, with details here

    The Nokia G50 in Ocean Blue and Midnight Sun (4GB/128GB variant) will be on sale for $449 RRP, and available from today online via: (Nokia G50 mobile) and leading retailers JB HiFi, Officeworks, Harvey Norman and Amazon, with details here. 

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