Ericsson predicts 10x growth in network traffic by 2016, touts HetNet portfolio

BARCELONA, Spain--Citing company research that predicts network traffic could increase 10 times by 2016--due to 5 times more smartphone users and 5 billion more mobile broadband users--Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) today said that it has a number of initiatives and products planned to help operators handle this growth.

Specifically, the company will expand its equipment portfolio by building more HetNet products, launching new services such as cloud-based data centers and smartphone optimization offerings, and expanding its OSS/BSS presence through its acquisition of Telcordia.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, showed off two small cell products during a briefing with the media today. He said the small cells are intended to allow operators to optimize their spectrum efficiency, particularly in dense urban areas.

Vestberg noted that in 2011 the company was focused on growing its market share to 38 percent of the market, up from 32 percent. He also said that Ericsson is a major supplier of LTE gear in the U.S. and Korea, with the company's equipment covering 250 million of the 325 million LTE POPs deployed. 

Similar to nearly every equipment maker at Mobile World Congress this week, Ericsson touted its growing patent portfolio, noting that the company has 30,000 patents and plans to monetize those patents in the future. "We want standards to be used and bring down the cost to the industry," Vestberg said.

Ericsson's championing of its small cell products is interesting because the company has long been a critic of femtocells. In an interview with FierceWireless, Arun Bhikshesvaran, chief marketing officer, said that the company believes that small cells are the right product for the right environment but noted that femtocells often have interference issues. The answer, according to Bhikshesvaran, is to deploy low-power cells that can be quickly deployed to handle coverage issues.

The company, which earlier this month announced the acquisition of BelAir Networks, also said it will incorporate carrier-grade Wi-Fi into its HetNet offering. Bhikshesvaran said that the BelAir deal made sense for Ericsson because the company already had customers, many of which were the Ericsson customers already. "We just built upon our synergies," Bhikshesvaran said.

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