Nokia, China Mobile partner up on new lab to research AI, machine learning

Nokia ended the week on a high note with Friday's news that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Mobile to create a new lab.

China Mobile and Nokia's lab will focus on the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to optimize future networks and enable the delivery of edge cloud and 5G services.

The China Mobile news came on the heels of Nokia's announcement earlier this week that it had struck a MoU with Chinese social media giant Tencent to jointly test 5G platforms and services in China. The strategic framework agreement for the MoU was signed at last month's Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018.

The agreement with Tencent included establishing an end-to-end 5G test environment in Shenzhen where the gear will include Nokia’s AirScale Radio Access Network, 5G Core, MEC framework, and third-party devices. That agreement also included a provision to use AI and automation management to promote 5G standards and an open source ecosystem in support of new services.

Nokia and China mobile will jointly establish the "AI*5G" lab in Hangzhou, China to research radio resource management and traffic prediction using AI and machine learning in a 5G radio access network (RAN.)

The two companies said that the collaboration would foster an open RAN ecosystem as they work with third parties on future "super fast" 5G and edge cloud services.

While Nokia isn't a member of the O-RAN Alliance that was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, China Mobile is. Despite the lack of membership, Nokia has pledged to work with the O-RAN Alliance, which had its first meeting last week during MWC Shanghai 2018.

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The Hangzhou lab will use "Nokia 5G Future X" architecture including Nokia ReefShark-powered AirScale Cloud RAN and its AirFrame open edge server. China Mobile will lead solution definition and related open API interface standardization work while Nokia is responsible for verification and demo development.

The China Mobile and Tencent MoUs position Nokia to become a player in the 5G and AI ecosystems in China. With 5G on the horizon, China Mobile currently has more than 902 million subscribers and one of the largest 4G networks in the world. The inroads that Nokia is making would seem to come at the expense of Huawei, which has been conducting its own 5G and AI labs and trials at home and abroad.

Also on the 5G lab front, Ericsson announced the launch of a 5G innovation lab in India on Tuesday. In May, Qualcomm sad it had created a new division to host all of the company's AI-related work in one repository.