Ericsson, Telia Sonera accelerate 5G race with planned 2018 launch

Stockholm-based TeliaSonera and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) are making no secret of their 5G ambitions, announcing that they aim to offer some version of 5G services to TeliaSonera customers in Stockholm and Estonia's Tallinn as early as 2018.

That would put them very near if not at the top of the list of operators aiming for a speedy ascent to 5G. Last week, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) CFO Fran Shammo said during the company's quarterly conference call that the carrier is moving aggressively to deploy 5G technologies and will be the first company to roll out 5G in the United States. Ericsson is among the vendors working with Verizon to launch field trials this year.

TeliaSonera, which has operations in more than a dozen countries, plans to develop 5G use cases and service scenarios with Ericsson, including both communication and Internet of Things (IoT) services with the purpose of addressing new business opportunities.

"Our ambition is to be at the cutting edge - at all times - offering our customers and society at large all the possibilities that technology brings," TeliaSonera President and CEO Johan Dennelind said in a press release. "Stockholm and Tallinn are two of the most connected cities in the world and now we'll take them to the next level. 5G will create completely new innovations, ecosystems and great services to our customers. 5G will also take connected things (IoT) to a new level. I can't wait to see how Stockholm and Tallinn will embrace 5G."

Potential 5G applications could include e-health with real-time surveillance of patients and remote treatment; connected cars, including critical communication between vehicles (warnings, support to self-driving cars and more), as well as better network performance in terms of capacity, coverage and power consumptionm, the companies say.

Indeed, at Ericsson's forum held in Stockholm in 2014, Volvo said it was planning to unleash 100 autonomous cars on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017. Volvo plans to use sensors as well as the city's wireless network infrastructure to provide the underlying connectivity, as well as take advantage of Ericsson's Connected Vehicle Cloud system.

TeliaSonera's ambitions come as operators in South Korea and Japan eye early roads to 5G. Korean mobile operator KT is aiming to launch a live service for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games being hosted in Pyeongchang, while Japan's NTT DoCoMo is gearing up to showcase 5G at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Verizon has not revealed exactly what it intends to offer consumers via 5G, but Shammo suggested that it's not just about mobility – other use cases may emerge, and CEO Lowell McAdam has said 5G is much more designed for video and more point-to-point solutions, as well as the ability to deliver up to 1 gigabit data speeds.

Rival AT&T (NYSE: T), which has taken a decidedly quieter tact to 5G, historically has been more vocal about moving to next-gen technologies like SDN and NFV, as well as establishing a leadership position in the Internet of Things (IoT), but executives have said they prefer to talk about 5G in the context of standards, which have yet to be written.

For more:
- see this FierceWirelessEurope article
- see this Mobile World Live article

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