Ericsson made bets on 5G standards, celebrates its foresight

Ericsson advises carriers not to buy any 4G equipment anymore because 5G equipment can be upgraded with software. (Getty Images)

When the standards were being hammered out for new radio (NR) Release 15, Ericsson made some bets about how those standards would ultimately look. And the company is pretty happy with its foresight, according to Paul Challoner, VP of network product solutions for Ericsson, North America.

Ericsson’s Radio System products delivered since 2015 are able to support 5G NR capability through a remote software installation to enable fast migration to 5G in existing bands. The software is based on the 3GPP Release 15 standard.

Verizon, which is an Ericsson customer, began installing the future-forward equipment early so that it could move from pre-standard 5G to standardized equipment with a software upgrade.

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Asked how Ericsson was able to accurately predict how the 5G standards would look, Challoner said, “We took bets on how the standards would work out. We made hardware choices and invested in hardware. Now, the Ericsson radios shipped since 2015 are 5G ready.”

He said the NR protocol is more processing-intensive than LTE. And Ericsson’s baseband unit has that processing capacity. “For New Radio, the frame structure is different; it has mini-slots,” he said. “When waiting for data, it’s put in a mini-slot on the frame so you don’t have to wait so long. It creates low latency.” Mini-slots can also be useful in transmissions in unlicensed spectrum and transmissions in the millimeter wave spectrum (mmWave band).

Ericsson has been involved with the 3GPP for many years. And although the group’s work is a collaboration among many parties, Ericsson was able to weigh in on the Release 15 standard, including “assuming the coding schemes and modulations would be in a certain way,” said Challoner. The assumptions were made a few years ago, and “fortunately, we were right,” he said.

Challoner spoke to FierceWireless on the sidelines of the recent Competitive Carriers Association show in Denver. If he had any advice for smaller wireless carriers, he said it would be: “Don’t buy any 4G-only equipment anymore. Make plans for 5G upgrades so you can do software upgrades. Every practical issue should be treated through a 5G lens. Forward think about your network.”


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