Ericsson CTO: Spectrum and security will be big challenges for 5G

Comparing spectrum to oil in terms of importance to the future of wireless connectivity, Ericsson EVP and CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said that because spectrum is in such limited supply, vendors like Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and others need to turn their focus to technologies like massive MIMO and beamforming that promise to make better use of existing spectrum.

In an interview with FierceWirelessTech, Ewaldsson said that security and network integrity will also become more critical with 5G because there will be so much data flowing over the networks that it will be extremely important to make sure that data is secure.

Ewaldsson also encouraged telecom operators to move more quickly with their deployments of SDN and NFV, noting that until they have a horizontal network that is programmable and automated, they won't be able to explore new technologies that will make their networks and application more relevant to the cloud. "This requires a big transformation -- moving from a core network to a virtualized core," he said. "We are seeing slowness among operators. It's hard to deploy SDN in huge networks."

However, the Ericsson executive added that there is plenty of room for disruption for operators that can be more aggressive in their plans to virtualize their networks. "We are in the middle of a transition but we need deployments," he said. "We need the industry to adopt this faster than is happening."

When it comes to machine-to-machine communications, Ewaldsson also said that he is an advocate for narrowband-LTE, or NB-IoT, which the 3GPP just agreed to make part of LTE Release 13. NB-IoT is supposed to support a number of low throughput M2M devices that have low power consumption. It is also supposed to provide improved indoor coverage for devices using NB-LTE. 

Earlier this month Ericsson announced that it had collaborated with Nokia and Intel on NB-LTE, which they said allows a high re-use of already existing LTE network technology for both infrastructure and chipsets and will lead to faster adoption and better economies of scale.

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