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Nokia closing R&D unit in PH

/ 05:20 AM January 23, 2020

The Nokia Technology Center Philippines in Quezon City is closing down this year—a harsh turn of events for its 700 IT professionals and administrative staff, many of whom were shocked at the announcement made a week ago.

At least two Nokia employees told the Inquirer that workers would be leaving as early as March although the winding down of operations is expected to last through September 2020.

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A Nokia spokesperson confirmed that the company had decided to close its Manila Technology Center by the third quarter of the year.

“Market conditions are tough and we expect them to remain so for the foreseeable future,” Nokia communications manager Cordia So said in an email to the Inquirer.

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“Cost structure, as well as the need to increase productivity, is driving the need for Nokia to consolidate its R&D (research and development) to fewer locations,” she added.

There was little warning given to employees of Nokia Technology Center Philippines, located in the sprawling UP-AyalaLand Technohub complex.One Nokia employee said the announcement was made only the previous Wednesday.

“It came as a surprise even for the managers. They were informed just an hour before the announcement,” the Nokia IT professional said. “Imagine the competition for us looking for a new job.”

The facility was established in 2010 as a “pioneer center” in Southeast Asia and part of Nokia’s premium R&D division.

Its engineers and other IT professionals are involved in the software design of 4G and even 5G mobile networks, the next-generation standard and new battleground in the telecommunications industry.

Nokia’s other business operations in the country “remain unchanged,” So said without elaborating.

Nokia is best known in the country for its trendy presmartphone era handsets that helped make the Philippines the text messaging capital of the world from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

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But the Finnish multinational is also a major supplier of network equipment that is crucial to telecommunications companies around the world.

The planned closure of Nokia Technology Center Philippines mirrored Nokia’s troubles in its home country in Finland, where it recently announced 180 job cuts as part of a plan to slash 500 million euros in operating costs, overseas reports showed.

Equipment suppliers like Nokia are facing more competition from the likes of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which wants to be a leader in mobile tech, in particular, 5G. Earlier, Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. chose Huawei as a major supplier in their 5G rollout.

Meanwhile, the Nokia employee said workers were receiving assistance from the company during the transition phase, including workshops for career development and even how to revise their resumés.

But there was still some work left to do at Nokia Technology Center Philippines.

“We are focusing on finishing what’s left of our backlog so we can focus on finding new jobs after,” the employee said.

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