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Nokia goes big, BEAD friendly with network-in-a-box 2.0

Nokia is broadening its horizons with a new version of its network-in-a-box solution, adding new components into the mix and making its kit scalable to meet the needs of medium-sized operators in addition to small ones. Executives told Fierce Telecom that certain equipment included in the box will also comply with Buy American requirements – at least, once its newly announced U.S. manufacturing facility starts pumping out products in early 2024.

The vendor first unveiled its network-in-a-box product in June 2022, customizing the kit for small and rural operators looking to deploy to around 1,000 homes at a clip. But the new version can support significantly larger networks.

“The first version was very much around supply chain and very small networks. Now that we’ve brought in a lot more of our components, we can address small networks – that’s really 1,000 to 20,000 subs – we can go to medium-sized networks – that’s 20 to 64k – and we can also go above that with larger networks,” Keith Russell, Nokia’s Fixed Networks marketing director, told Fierce Telecom.

He added Nokia doesn’t really expect larger network operators to need the network-in-a-box solution given they have the resources on hand to engineer exactly what they want to build. But for smaller networks, Russell said “we’re able to address and configure based on those different sized network builds” and desired network applications.

New components

The original network-in-a-box kit included optical line terminals (OLT), optical network terminals (ONT), Wi-Fi units and associated licenses. For its second edition, Nokia is adding its IP routing products into the mix as well as additional OLT options.

Earlier this month, Nokia became the first company to announce plans to bring its manufacturing of optical components to the U.S. The move was designed to meet Buy American requirements associated with the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The rule requires grant awardees to use products containing at least 55% domestic content.

Stefaan Vanhastel, VP of marketing and innovation for Nokia Fixed Networks, said the network-in-a-box kit today contains products made outside the U.S. But once its new stateside manufacturing facilities begin delivering products in early 2024, the box will be stocked with OLTs and ONTs made in the country.

Russell noted there was a lot of interest in the first version of the box and Nokia expects the second edition to find greater success, both because of its increased scale and the BEAD-friendly options.

The new version of network-in-a-box is available now, through both Nokia and channel partners including Wesco International (TVC) and Winncom Technologies.

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