Ericsson head details efforts, progress in 5G

Ericsson booth
Ericsson CEO Bӧrje Ekholm says 5G will be a "shift for our entire society." (Monica Alleven/Fierce Wireless)

Ericsson President and CEO Bӧrje Ekholm reaffirmed strides the Swedish company is making on 5G in a statement issued about a week before the industry converges for MWC Barcelona.

Ericsson was first with a live commercial 5G network in the United States and has deployed 5G networks in Europe, Australia and Asia, according to Ekholm. The infrastructure vendor has also announced 5G deals with 10 service providers and 42 memorandums of understanding with others, he added.

Because Ericsson’s radio system hardware is capable of being updated to 5G NR with a remote software installation, he argues the company has already shipped more than 3 million 5G-ready radios worldwide. “We have also been the largest contributor to the standardization body in 3GPP during 2018 to show our leading position,” he said in a prepared statement.

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“We are on the threshold of a global technology shift—with new opportunities, new efficiencies and new business models. This goes beyond our industry. It is a shift for our entire society,” Ekholm said.

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He also addressed the reasons why Europe could fall behind in 5G, issues surrounding security with the next-generation networks. While it is true that Europe runs the risk of losing ground in the race to 5G, Ekholm pinned the blame on a lack of spectrum, spectrum fees and regulation. Most European countries have yet to hold spectrum auctions for 5G, he said.

On the security front, Ekholm argued that fears are unfounded. “We must make sure that other industries, governments and people trust the security and integrity of our networks,” he said. “The 5G standard is not the full answer to a secure 5G network. As 5G becomes a critical infrastructure, what will really determine the security of a network will be the security technology and operational procedures that are put on top of the standardization features.”

During the last two years, Ericsson has hired 4,000 engineers in research and development for 5G, according to Ekholm. “Competition is the mother of innovation,” he said, arguing that Ericsson has the resources and supply chain capacity to meet market demands as more 5G deployments get underway. “Our strategy is to work with the first movers in lead markets, driving 5G introduction as spectrum becomes available.”

Ericsson plans to share more about its 5G plans, including software and equipment, later this month at MWC Barcelona.

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