Nokia may be best known for cellular phones, but in recent years, the Finnish company has focused on networking hardware — the radios and infrastructure that connect cellular devices to the internet. Today, Nokia announced that it’s augmenting its Worldwide Internet of Things Network Grid (WING) with new 5G capabilities, enabling cellular carriers to offer global-scale 5G IoT services to customers without building out their own networks.

While that’s a lot of jargon to absorb at once, the gist is that carriers such as AT&T and Verizon want to offer business customers the ability to connect small IoT sensors to the internet, but don’t necessarily want to spend the money to build the cellular infrastructure the sensors need to communicate. So Nokia offers WING as a global IoT infrastructure, partnering with carriers to sell access on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Going forward, small 5G-connected sensors are expected to be used for vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communications, industrial monitoring and control, public services, and remote healthcare, collectively requiring better bandwidth, reliability, security, and latency than before. In some cases, the sensors may travel outside of a carrier’s service area, including into foreign countries.

Nokia’s network upgrade is adding both 5G and edge processing abilities to facilitate early stage connection of these sensors, enabling carriers to begin offering services quickly, then augment their own infrastructures over time to meet concentrated areas of demand. The company says it’s actively working with carriers with global enterprise customers to help with IoT needs that cross geographic borders.

Since 5G IoT is still in early stages — 3GPP is continuing to evolve the 5G standard to accommodate low-power sensors — Nokia is opening a 5G WING lab in Dallas, Texas to help operators research and test 5G IoT use cases. Various types of latency-minimizing approaches will be available for testing, including enterprise premises connections, far network edge connections, or more traditional cloud connections, as well as multi-edge computing (MEC) solutions that can be used for VR, AR, and C-V2X purposes.

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