Enterprise 4G market ‘growing 23% a year’

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

The mobile telecoms equipment market is flat, says Nokia, but the market for LTE for enterprise will grow at 23% a year

The market for selling LTE equipment to enterprises such as mining companies and banks will grow at 23% a year. And mobile operators won’t necessarily win it.

Instead, believes Nokia executive Samih Elhage, companies will increasingly set up in-house networks with unlicensed spectrum.

Elhage, president of mobile networks at Nokia, expects enterprises to go vendors such as Nokia to manage and connect together their networks – and compare their offerings with those from existing operators.

Nokia is already receiving requests for proposals (RFPs) from enterprises that are wanting to connect up their future internet-of-things (IoT) “across countries and continents” without necessarily going through local telecoms operators, he told Global Telecoms Business in a briefing.

According to Elhage, while the main market for mobile is likely to be flat over the next five years – growing at only 0.4% a year – key enterprise and public service markets are likely to grow at 23.2% a year. That implies the market will grow by 183% over five years.

Nokia has already built LTE networks for large enterprises: Alcatel-Lucent, which Nokia bought in January 2016, announced a project with mining firm Rio Tinto in 2015, largely to connect autonomous equipment.

Banks, oil companies and transport companies as well as mining companies are all candidates to connect up their own LTE networks in future, said Elhage. “It’s not very different from what’s happening today. Banks are already building IP networks,” he said.

The local LTE networks – in factories, mines and other facilities – will typically use unlicensed spectrum, so will not need the participation of mobile operators.

Some will be connected by existing international operators, but some networks will be connected by companies such as Nokia, he suggested. “Operators can do it, but at the same time we can do it too. We do not have a specific strategy to work with operators or compete with them,” he said.

“We are getting lots of RFPs” to link enterprise networks together, he said. Companies want to connect their “IoT capabilities across countries and continents”, and are going to “operators and people like us” for possible solutions.