Nokia nets Tele2 as first WING customer, bets growth on smart cities

Nordic MNO Tele2 has signed up as the first MNO customer for Nokia’s WING PaaS, a managed IoT service that Nokia might eventually push aggressively to non-MNO clients, such as cloud computing giants looking for IoT connectivity. Such a move might eventually relegate MNOs to acting as dumb pipes, with Nokia stealing the network orchestration and backend services from under their noses.

However, that potential future strategy is not apparently on the cards just yet, with Nokia insisting at WING’s launch that it was not an attempt to undercut the MNOs. What WING offers is a way to secure global connectivity for IoT devices, using WING as the means of accessing roaming deals with MNOs around the world.

WING can also support LPWANs like LoRa and Sigfox, and WiFi access too – and the idea is that Tele2 can use WING to connect Tele2 customers on any WING-partner network in the world. Tele2 says that WING will let it minimize operations costs, and maximize the control of an IoT deployment for its customers. The Tele2 service is being launched in Q3 2018.

Tele2 says it plans to support customers in transport, healthcare, smart cities, and utilities, hoping to provide their entire global connectivity needs. Nokia’s Ankur Bhan, head of WING, said the 5-year deal would “enable Tele2 IoT to offer its enterprise customers a global service with flexible control, low latency, and high levels of efficiency, and enterprise automation.”

Tele2 IoT CEO Rami Avidan added “this is a very important partnership we are forging with Nokia. We want to simplify the global IoT connectivity ecosystem for large enterprises. The offering we will launch based on this partnership will create totally new growth opportunities and give the reliability that is needed for business-critical applications. With this offering we are breaking technical and commercial barriers and combining that with open and dynamic business models.”

Tele2 is bringing its Intelligent SIM Switching tech to the table, which will allow its customers to switch between local network tariffs and packages, to get the best rates – which it can then push as a service to its customers. Nokia’s WING will still be able to monitor the collective service, keeping an eye on the network performance and data collection, in an IaaS model – we are told.

So while Nokia’s long-term strategy might eventually see it come into conflict with MNOs like Tele2, it is using the run up to MWC to announce a new set of smart city offerings, which are intended to secure some shorter-term opportunities.

The first launch is the aptly named IoT for Smart Cities, a ‘fully integrated, modular, and scalable framework’ for managing smart city services. The sorts of services Nokia says it can support include smart lighting and parking, waste management, and video surveillance – as well as environmental sensing.

Key to the IoT for Smart Cities offering is the Integrated Operations Center (IOC), which will act as a focal point for the city’s existing services and data sources. This should allow staffers to more easily monitor a deployment, and respond accordingly using Nokia’s tools. However, there aren’t much more in the way of details for the IOC. It would be nice to see what sort of hardware or cloud infrastructure it could be run, and the overhead of combining all those services.

The second component of the launch is Sensing-as-a-Service, an analytics service that collects and processes environmental data from city assets, supported by a blockchain ledger for data integrity – and as the basis of trading this sensor data (an architecture that Riot is particularly enthusiastic about). Nokia cites this as a commercial opportunity for both cities and operators, as this data resource can be sold to other similar customers.

Nokia says that operators and city customers can leverage their existing network infrastructure deployments, thanks to Nokia providing sensor hardware that can be mounted to base stations. It promises that the kit can be used to detect unusual environmental behavior, such as illegal construction, burning of waste, or anomalous air particulates.

The third new element is called Secure-MVNO for Public Safety, which is aimed at MNOs looking to offer mission-critical broadband services to public safety agencies. Using Nokia’s ViTrust portfolio, the system promises to ensure availability and resilience, while ensuring interoperability with the legacy systems that a public safety agency might already be using.

Nokia’s Head of Business Development at its Global Services wing, Asad Rizvi, said “cities need to become digital in order to efficiently deliver services to their habitants. Smart infrastructure, which is shared, secure, and scalable, is needed to ensure urban assets and data are efficiently used. We can help cities with that. In addition, we can help operators generate new revenue utilizing their existing network by providing solutions for smart city players, such as city, transport, travel and public safety authorities.”

The other major smart city announcement from Nokia was a development partnership with Singapore MNO StarHub, in which the pair say they are pioneering new mobility analytics use cases “to help operators create value from the data in their networks to address the needs of digital cities.”

Simply put, the approach should enable an MNO to extract some value out of the vast quantities of metadata that they collect through providing connectivity to customers. Things like location, user demographics, and usage patterns, are all valuable to the likes of a smart city, or a third-party wanting to know how people behave in urban environments.

The system is based on Nokia’s AVA Cognitive Services Platform, and with StarHub, it suggests that measuring commuting patterns could enable applications such as mass transit efficiency planning, more effective advertising campaigns, or future urban development decision making for city planners.

“We have a strong team of data analytics experts with a diversity of capabilities, and we have introduced several successful mobility analytics use cases in Singapore for strategic and operational urban planning and decision making. By integrating the use cases into the Nokia AVA platform and using Nokia’s analytics capabilities, we will be developing the use cases further and creating new ones that we can offer even to other telcos as white label solutions,” said StarHub’s Enterprise Business Group chief, Chong Yoke Sin.