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MWC 2018: 5G 'open for business', says Ericsson CEO

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm has been expanding on early commercial opportunities for 5G mobile networks

Enhanced consumer mobile broadband will be the first large-scale global use case for 5G mobile networks, driven by the need to run networks more efficiently to guarantee a better user experience, Ericsson president and CEO Börje Ekholm has told Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona.

On the opening day of the annual mobile industry knees-up, Ekholm discussed the advantages of being a frontrunner in 5G roll-out and proclaimed 5G “open for business”.

Ekholm highlighted Ericsson’s solidifying focus on 5G business cases as some of the key technological enablers – such as 5G new radio (NR) access, network slicing, and machine learning and automation – begin to move closer to reality.

“We will focus not only on why and what, but also on how. This is what our customers – the service providers – want to discuss,” said Ekholm. “Customer feedback was the foundation for our focused strategy launched last year, and how we are showcasing our products and technologies in our hall.”

According to Eckholm, mobile network operators (MNOs) will have to address three fundamental areas in order to succeed in 5G: reducing the cost per gigabyte of data, improving customer experience and generating new revenues based on new use cases.

He underscored mobile broadband as the first large-scale use case based on the ongoing surge in data traffic and the ability of current mobile networks to cope with this, or not. This surge shows no signs of dying down, with data traffic expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 40% through to 2023.

However, he said, enhanced broadband goes beyond speed and experiences – network efficiency must also be considered. He predicted a fully-evolved site with 4G and 5G capacity will deliver data at a 10th of the cost of today.

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5G will be built on multiple use cases, and Ekholm underscored enhanced mobile broadband as the first large-scale global use case for 5G. This, he said, is based on surging data traffic and the need to provide better user experience. Between 2017 and 2023, data traffic is projected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent. This means eight times more traffic per site.

“We don’t know which use cases will ultimately be the most important for 5G, but we know early adopters tend to get a sustainable advantage,” said Ekholm.

“Last year, we broke speed records in tests, opened a 5G design centre in Austin, Texas, and introduced new radio products for Massive MIMO and network services that ease the 5G journey.

“Just this year, we completed our 5G platform, which comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with OSS, BSS, network services and security,” he said. “We added 5G commercial software for radio and core networks to enable operators to launch 5G already from Q4 2018.”

Australia’s Telstra is one of a number of global MNOs that have signed agreements with Ericsson to work on 5G, and CEO Andy Penn said that it was important for his organisation to be an early mover, particularly looking beyond consumer use cases to opportunities for enterprise customers.

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