Nokia is expected to play a major role in the deployment of 5G networks in Europe as you are doing already in the US and Korea. What have been your milestones in Spain in the recent years?
Our tagline is that we create the technology to connect the world. With that goal in mind, we have a complete portfolio of solutions for operators and enterprises. A major characteristic of Nokia is our commitment to innovation. Our Nokia Bell labs have come up with extremely relevant innovations for the society as a whole. Today, Nokia is present in every continent and partners with all major Communication Service Providers. The networks that we have deployed around the world support more than 6.4 billion subscriptions. Our enterprise clients have deployed more than 1,300 industrial networks worldwide. We are a global company with EUR23.3 billion in revenues in 2019. In the last two decades, we have invested around EUR130 billion in R&D, EUR4 billion in 2020, which has allowed us to remain at the forefront of the industry. We are going through a transformational process to consolidate four large business groups in the company: cloud and network services; mobile networks; networks infrastructure; and Nokia technologies.
How will COVID-19 affect the deployment of 5G in Europe?
In its initial stages, the 5G technology will rely on the existing 4G infrastructure, though the 5G concept goes further than previous technological changes. 5G will significantly contribute to the digitalization process for industries and public administrations. Telecommunication operators have been investing steadily to update the infrastructure in the last few years. However, European operators are experiencing challenging circumstances, and it is becoming more common for operators to sign partnerships to share their infrastructure. The current crisis that we are going through due to the pandemic has highlighted how critical telecommunication networks are. 5G deployment plans will not stop; on the contrary, they can become extremely relevant in terms of how we overcome this crisis and emerge stronger from it. The impact that 5G can have on the digitalization of our companies and industries can be significant. 5G technology can help Spain recover from the crisis and become stronger than it was before.
Nokia is one of the 5G network providers for Telefónica in Spain; however, Orange and Vodafone are two important Nokia 5G customers outside Spain. Are there plans to be also their supplier in Spain in the next few years?
We are willing to have as many customers as possible and we want to be present in most of the market in Spain. We have been working with Telefónica for many years and support them in other areas of the network apart from the radio access. With Vodafone and Orange, we also supply radio access technology in other countries. In Spain we are collaborating with them since many years in the deployment of their Fiber and Transport networks, also critical for 5G. However, so far, we have not been selected to be one of their suppliers for the radio access network in Spain. Every technology renewal cycle is an opportunity to review that decision. We offer leading technology and competitive commercial conditions. As a result, at the end of 2020, we had signed 139 5G commercial contracts. And we are always looking at strategies to grow our presence in Spain.
The auction of the 700-MHz spectrum has been delayed to 2021 because of COVID-19. What advantage does Nokia have over its two main competitors?
We are the only manufacturer of telecommunications infrastructure that has solutions in every area of the network and is present in every continent; our competitors cannot say that. We have experience with all the solutions required to deploy an entire 5G infrastructure. This means we are in the best position to understand the complexity of the network. We understand how all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fits together, and we have a comprehensive understanding of the 5G infrastructure.
What are your thoughts on the public administration using European funds to help roll out 5G?
That is extremely relevant because the recent European recovery funds seek to address two main issues: climate change and the digitalization of the economy. In that regard, we are pleased with the current developments and the commitment to achieving the digitalization goal. These funds are a blessing, and public-private partnership is key to seize these funds. We have to be capable of investing in infrastructure that generates permanent changes in our ecosystem and economy. We are extremely active in seeing how we can participate in that initiative, and are we are in talks with our customers and partners to participate and propose our ideas.
Nokia has signed an agreement with NASA to provide 4G technology on the moon. Can you elaborate on that?
Nokia is extremely proud of its innovation capacity. We have done many different things over the years. This is an exciting project that seeks to make 4G technology available on the moon taking into account its particularities. This 4G service, which everyone has on their personal cellphones, will be optimized and adapted in an attempt to be compatible with the atmosphere and gravity of the moon. It is an extremely interesting project, and we are proud of the fact that NASA chose to partner with us.
What are Nokia Bell Labs working on, and what presence do these labs have in Spain?
We are extremely proud of having a division within the Bell Labs based in Spain since more than four years ago. That happened because the company recognized a lot of innovation potential in Spain and many talented people. This site in Spain is heavily focused on developing video-related technologies, one of them being virtual and augmented reality that can be supported by 5G infrastructure. The combination of 5G and video applications have a great potential.
What is your main priority for 2021?
There are two aspects. First and foremost, the key priority is to ensure employee health and safety in the current uncertain and difficult times derived from the COVID-19. Fortunately, we have not been severely affected by the pandemic. 2021 could likely be the year when we might recover from the pandemic, so in 2021 we must focus on returning to normal. Some of the challenges that the pandemic has brought might be permanent. In terms of business, the main priority will be 5G. Another priority is how we collaborate in the digitalization of our economy and industries, in line with one of Nokia's revised strategy main pillars.