Looking ahead at 2019 executives from Nokia say the company is moving steadily into the enterprise space and they are ready to "digitalise different layers of society", with many industries having initiated the digital transformation process.
Speaking to ITWeb Africa on the sidelines of AfricaCom 2018 hosted in Cape Town recently, Joachim Wuilmet, Head of MEA Marketing said while the enterprise space is a focus, the company's strategy for Africa is based on its core business which is- and will continue to be the telco.
Wuilmet said it is important for the company to be close to the industry and referenced Nokia's partnership with South African operator rain (and the launch of 5G services) as an example.
According to a statement released by the partners, the full network deployment is set to start in Q1 2019 and services are expected to launch mid-2019 when standards-based 5G NR devices become available in the country.
The partners have emphasised the role 5G could play in education.
The statement reads: "The classroom of the future will embrace virtual reality technology run on 5G networks to give South African citizens access to world-class education. This will not only improve the education system in the country, but also stimulate economic growth."
Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "Nokia has a long-standing relationship with rain, and we are proud to work with the company on 5G. Nokia believes that 5G will change the connectivity landscape in South Africa and the entire continent. It will connect the unconnected and reshape services such as education and health, with the introduction of more connected things. 5G is a key investment and innovation and the connectivity it offers is critical to digital transformation."
As part of rain's 5G project Nokia will deploy its AirScale radio access network solution in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal as well as the Mangaung (Bloemfontein) regions.
Willem Roos, CEO of rain, said, "rain is proud to be on the forefront of 5G worldwide and working with Nokia and other partners to connect as many South African as possible with affordable high-speed broadband services."
Nokia's regional leadership said it is also interesting to follow the spectrum movement.
In South Africa there is discussion around 4G bands, with 5G expected in 2020, and a new entrant in the access network space.
There are new players emerging as spectrum continues to be auctioned, and this islikely to attract investment.
In its assessment of the broader ICT space in Africa in 2019, Nokia acknowledged the continent's infrastructure challenges, but pointed to opportunities that lie in increased connectivity.
Wuilmet said according to GSMA Intelligence, unique mobile subscriber penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 40% (444 million) at the end of 2017.
"We have a done a pretty good job in connecting people, but we still need to work to break down connectivity to rural areas. Looking more at the trends, at the moment in Sub-Saharan Africa – with some exceptions - it is still predominantly 2G connectivity, but we are about to see an acceleration of mobile broadband adoption being essentially 3G and 4G, with 5G gradually coming into the picture."