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Ericsson extends 5G reach with China Telecom, China Unicom

Leading Chinese operators tap Swedish comms tech giant for 5G core portfolio systems, including cloud packet, NFVI, dynamic orchestration and spectrum sharing

Ericsson has announced a partnership with China Telecom and China Unicom to deploy 5G radio system products and systems, including spectrum-sharing technology, as the operators roll out 5G across China.

As an established technology and strategic partner for China Telecom and China Unicom, Ericsson will support the communications service providers (CSPs) in their shared efforts to swiftly make 5G services a reality.

The deal will see Ericsson provide outdoor and indoor site solutions to build capacity and coverage in the 3.5GHz and 2.1GHz bands and network services will include provisioning, installation and testing to meet the CSPs’ technical needs and enable them to build and share 5G networks.

The Ericsson Radio System portfolio will facilitate the telcos’ standalone (SA) 5G RAN build. Ericsson’s 3.5GHz and 200MHz wideband 5G radio solutions will serve shared network building needs for high call volume, while 2.1GHz 5G radio solutions will support the mixed deployment of 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

This, said Ericsson, will help China Telecom and China Unicom to quickly achieve coverage breadth and depth.

China Telecom has also selected systems from the Ericsson 5G Core portfolio, including cloud packet core, cloud unified data management and policy products, built on cloud-native technology for operational efficiency and agility to launch new 5G services.

The Ericsson 5G Core network will be deployed on Ericsson network functions virtualisation infrastructure (NFVI) along with Ericsson dynamic orchestration and Ericsson spectrum sharing, which became commercially available in February 2020.

Ericsson currently has 91 commercial 5G agreements and contracts with unique operators, including 36 live 5G networks on four continents. Supporting the push for 5G is Ericsson’s new US 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas, which began operations in early March 2020, producing 5G base stations for the North American market.

Ericsson has now released details of how the site got up to speed, training its engineering professionals with almost no face-to-face interaction. By utilising virtual reality (VR) in the months before opening, new Ericsson employees were able to learn directly from peers in the company’s smart factory in Tallinn, Estonia, 8,000km away.

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This approach enabled Ericsson to staff and open the complex to the target timeline and be operational from day one – without needing new US factory staff to travel to other Ericsson locations for face-to-face onboarding. “The challenge lay in how to onboard new colleagues to a factory that had yet to open,” said Anna Cau, head of people, group supply at Ericsson.

“We have a 5G-enabled smart factory in Tallinn, which has been operational for quite some time. We realised that the most efficient and productive onboarding of our colleagues in the new US facility could be done through virtual collaboration and knowledge-sharing with our peers in Tallinn. It was time to put VR-enabled onboarding into action.”

To date, more than 60 professionals have been onboarded in this way. Plans are in place to develop the collaboration and knowledge-sharing through 5G connectivity. VR is also being used for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among other Ericsson smart factories.

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