Nokia nets big Chinese smart grid network upgrade via SGCC

Nokia continues its diversification strategy, looking to take some of the pressure off of its core cellular networking infrastructure business by expanding into the IoT. This week, it has announced a large contract win with State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), to upgrade an optical network that will be the foundation for smart grids in Beijing and Tianjin.

It’s a notable win for Nokia, snatching one up in Huawei’s home market – the company that has been terrorizing both Nokia and Ericsson, invading their core markets. SGCC has picked Nokia to update its SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) optical network, to a new 10Gbps OTN (optical transport network), using Nokia’s new 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) offerings, which are based on its PSE chipset.

SGCC, the largest utility in the world, is looking for more networking bandwidth, to drive new smart grid projects in Beijing and Tianjin. SGCC, as the name suggests, is the main company building and maintaining power grids in China, claiming to cover 88% of the country, and supply 1.1bn people with electricity. This is not the first time that SGCC has worked with Nokia, as a previous project with Nokia Shanghai Bell, with SGCC Jibei, served 100m people in Hebei.

In future, Nokia could be used to cover the rest of the country, which should turn into a lucrative gig for the Finnish company. SGCC is apparently very keen on the 1830 PSS platform, and its ability to interconnect data centers and long-haul optical networks, so that SGCC can more efficiently link its metropolitan and regional systems. To this end, Nokia is also providing centralized Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS) tools – although those are rabbit-holes that you can easily fall into when exploring.

SGCC says that the Nokia system will help it provide better services, reduce its network operating costs, and extend its network lifecycles. Zhang Huijian, Vice-General Manager of SGCC Tianjin Electric Information & Communication  Corporation, said “the new OTN network can provide better technology support for communications, deliver higher level of security and reliability for the power grid, and raise operational efficiency, while improving the business environment to help us deliver better services to our customers. We are pleased to be working with Nokia, which has advanced optical/IP technologies and provides high-quality and professional services to support us in this project.”

Riot has outlined Nokia’s diversification before, with its Intelligence Management Platform for all Connected Things ( … IMPACT), aimed at providing everything from data collection, event processing, device management, security, and then application enablement. The other major component is the Worldwide IoT Network Grid ( … WING), a one-stop shop managed service that it is pitching at companies looking to connect devices to applications.

But the company has also developed a range of utility-specific networking products, including its 7705 Service Aggregation Router (SAR). Back at that launch, Sri Reddy, Nokia’s head of IP Routing and Packet Core Business, said “power utilities worldwide are in the midst of a significant transformation as they gear up to meet new market forces, green environmental regulations, and disruptive renewable energy technologies. Grid reliability, power quality, and automation are all key areas that will require improved field area networks.”

Nokia says it has over 100 utility customers on its books, but also serves the Oil & Gas and Mining sectors too, through its Digital Transformation for Energy Companies wing. EPB in Chattanooga and Tata Power are two notable customer deals, but we expect SGCC to begin appearing in its list of case studies for its portfolio.