Q&A with Nokia's Philippe Agard

By Jonathan Nally
Wednesday, 31 October, 2018

Q&A with Nokia's Philippe Agard

In the lead-up to this year’s Comms Connect Melbourne conference and exhibition, we’ll be bringing you a series of Q&As with speakers and exhibitors… to find out what they will be sharing with the audience at Australasia’s biggest critical communications event.

This week we speak with Nokia’s Philippe Agard.

Agard is Nokia’s Global Public Safety and Defence Segment Leader. He leads a team which develops this segment globally, including defining market requirements, driving discussion to define solutions and developing a partner ecosystem.

Agard has spent his entire career in the communications industry, within Alcatel, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia. He also represents Nokia at TCCA, Public Safety Communication Europe and the Cyber Excellence Cluster in France.


Nokia recently entered into a €500 million load agreement with the European Investment Bank. How this will be used?

This loan will be used to bolster our research in 5G technology for end-to-end networks through to 2020.

You’ve recently signed major deals in several countries (eg, China Mobile and TeamTalk). What are Nokia’s plans for the Australian market?

Nokia has more than 120 years’ heritage in Australia, tracking back through organisations such as Siemens, Alcatel and STC. We’ve supported the national telecommunications infrastructure for generations and today provide networks and systems for players across the market.

Meanwhile, we have a track record in Australia of building a business aligned to the global Nokia strategy to grow mission-critical capabilities in markets such as public sector, transport, energy and resources. This has included some very large-scale works delivering private LTE for Rio Tinto to operate driverless trucks and other plant at open-cut mine sites.

We’ve been building our presence in rail communications and utilities, at the same time as working closely with different stakeholders to ensure Australia can fully appreciate the potential of public safety mobile broadband and the end-user applications it could deliver.

Nokia works with a growing number of partners across the market in Australia, at the same time as we work to raise our profile in these key markets. We have more than 1200 people across our Oceania business.

Our job is to work with our customers to make sure they are laying the right foundations to get the most out of their technology investments. Public safety is clearly a big focus, but we also see huge appetite in Australia from organisations from across the industrial spectrum for technology and strategies that will support new levels of efficiency and resilience in their operations.

The Nokia Group Communications portfolio was launched two years ago. Can you bring us up to date with developments?

Nokia Group Communications is a commercially available solution, part of Nokia’s end-to-end LTE mission-critical portfolio called ViTrust, which is been used for public safety as well as business-critical industries, eg, utilities, mining, transportation.

Since the launch of the solution, new features have been developed such as the integration of GIS capabilities enabling the dynamic creation of PTT and push-to-video groups in a selected area, and a real-time visualisation of first responders on a map.

Nokia Group Communications can also now be deployed using Nokia LTE compact and deployable solutions, including the Nokia ultracompact network launched in 2017. Such solutions allow the set-up of LTE push-to-video and PTT communications in minutes in case of disaster recovery or for remote business- or mission-critical needs.

When it comes to new developments, Nokia offers a comprehensive public safety services portfolio to facilitate the evolution towards broadband of mission-critical communications services. One of the key solutions for this is the Secure Mobile Virtual Network Operator model (S-MVNO), which enables mission-critical broadband over commercial networks, while meeting stringent availability, resiliency, performance and security requirements.

At the heart of all public safety operations is Nokia’s Advanced Command Center (ACC), a next-generation command centre that helps agencies by enabling better coordination for ever-more-complex cases through virtually networked control rooms. All control rooms have the same view of the situation and can access the same data, enabling a more rapid and coordinated response. ACC also enables better-informed decision-making through new and aligned data sources, such as video, IoT, analytics and automation.

Where do you see the most innovation coming from in the next few years?

If you speak about the telecommunication industry, there is no doubt that that the coming years will be the ones of 5G, with the deployments of the first commercial networks around the world. 5G in the near future, but also existing technologies, such as 4G/LTE, SDN and multicloud, are a strong driver for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Lots of innovation will also be introduced in many industrial markets, which will rely on mission- and business-critical broadband connectivity combined with cognitive analytics (based on machine learning and artificial intelligence) to turn data into meaningful insights and automate decision and actions.

What obstacles need to be negotiated for next-gen critical communications networks to flourish?

To date, two main obstacles have held back the deployment of next-generation critical communications networks: spectrum availability and support of mission-critical features on broadband networks.

With spectrum availability, the situation varies from country to country, but with the adoption of LTE for next-generation mission-critical networks, alternative models such as Secure-MVNO or hybrid networks are possible and being adopted by the market. They enable acceleration of the introduction of mission-critical broadband networks by leveraging existing commercial networks, without compromising on network reliability, particularly in case of crises or disasters.

Concerning the support of mission-critical features by 3GPP (which defines the 4G/LTE and 5G standards), the situation is now really improving — lots of mission-critical features are now part of the 3GPP standard and vendors such as Nokia are supporting them. A very high level of reliability can be offered to support mission-critical grade data-based services, which remains the primary driver for deploying these networks.

As these key barriers are being overcome, we are seeing growing traction across the globe, be it for public safety or for other vertical markets such as utilities, mining or transportation.

What can visitors expect to learn from Nokia’s presence at Comms Connect Melbourne in November?

Today we stand at the cusp of the next major industrial revolution, which will combine the best of information and operational technologies (IT and OT) to bring a massive improvement in productivity for mission-critical industries.

At Comms Connect Melbourne we will present such solutions with a focus on next-generation digital public safety services. We’ll show how to shorten incident detection, qualification and decision, and then how to better inform first responders in the field, with our ACC solution.

We’ll also show our solutions to facilitate the deployment of mission-critical broadband networks anywhere, with our deployable LTE system and our S-MVNO solutions.

We’ll also be present on the Critical Communications Finland pavilion, showcasing how to manage quality of service and prioritisation to guarantee critical communications always get the highest priority.

Don’t miss Comms Connect Melbourne, 20–22 November, at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. Full program and registration details are available on the event website.

Pictured: Philippe Agard, Global Public Safety and Defence Segment Leader, Nokia. Courtesy of Erillisverkot.

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