Aiming to take full advantage of the potential opportunity that it has in the 5G industry after political decisions in the US, UK and European Union (EU), Ericsson has revealed its roadmap for what it believes will be success in the 5G arena.
At what would have been a pre-Mobile World Congress event in London, the Swedish comms tech giant said that as 2020 progresses, the company will present “richer” 5G offerings taking advantage of standalone 5G networks that support capabilities such as network slicing.
In what he said would be a year of better 5G and beyond, Ericsson executive vice-president, head of business area networks, Fredrik Jejdling revealed that the year would see more use case-driven deployments, not only in 5G standalone but also in multiple frequency bands, and the secret sauce that the company could offer would be its standalone 5G core technology.
Jejdling noted that while 2019 was the year that 5G took off, with a calculated 13 million global 5G subscriptions, mainly in the US and Korea, the company claimed to be powering 24 live 5G networks in 14 countries in 81 commercial 5G agreements in over 40 commercial devices. Indeed, Ericsson claims that it has the widest ecosystem of supported devices on live 5G networks.
But if 2019 was 5G take-off year, then he said that 2020 would be the year that it achieved a much higher orbit, with up to 100 million subscribers. Key to driving this explosion would be consumer service bundling and vastly improved affordability of 5G-compatible devices.
The executive noted that in 2019 the price of high-end 5G smartphones and pocket routers was around the US$1,000 mark, but in 2020 he expected to see a volume device market characterised by mid-tier smartphones costing under US$300. This would also take place as operators, from 20-25% of global firms, provided services with much wider footprints than was the case in 2019.
That said, Jejdling cautioned that almost two-thirds of operators were positioning 5G as a high-end or exclusive service, adding that operators needed to build value into their propositions for 5G and would be richly rewarded for doing so. He quoted research showing that half of consumers were willing to pay a 20% premium over 4G for 5G capability. But the key would be for operators to take the opportunity to offer added value to consumers, beyond data and speed.
“Use case-centric and agile technologies, applied across the ecosystem, will enable faster and targeted innovation for the benefit of the whole industry,” Jejdling remarked.
Yet all this would be achieved, said the company, by understanding that 5G requires smarter networks and that this started at the core. The key technologies for better 5G would be 5G-ready radios and basebands; dynamic allocation of spectrum between 4G and 5G to offer the best way to deploy 5G – that is Ericsson Spectrum Sharing (ESS) technology with 1ms spectral efficiency; carrier aggregation (CA) which, when combined with ESS, could provide 27% extra capacity and 25% better mid-band population coverage; and software migration from non-standalone to standalone in both radio access network and core 5G.
Picking up the theme of the core, Folke Anger, head of solution line packet core business area digital services at Ericsson, noted that 5G core deployments would accelerate in 2020 and asserted that there was a lot of interest from operators to deploy Ericsson 5G core standalone systems.
Anger said a rich ecosystem of chipsets, devices and verticals was being built up that was coexistent and interworking with existing architectures. He added that more than 70 customer trial engagements of the Ericsson core technology engagements were taking place, with the first 5G standalone core commercial deployments in 2020 to take place in Korea, the US and China. The company expected a lot of volume in China in 2020 and revealed that it was currently in negotiations with China Mobile in a deal that could be decided in March 2020.
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