Even though times are tough for the incumbent telecom infrastructure vendors, investments still must be made. Ericsson today announced it has signed agreements for credit facilities worth $370 million for 5G and other investments.
Specifically, the company signed agreements with the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) for $220 million and AB Svensk Exportkredit for $150 million. Besides strengthening its balance sheet and financial flexibility, the new funds will support R&D activities to further develop 5G and other mobile innovations.
"As part of our focused strategy we are increasing our investments to secure technology leadership in 5G, IoT and digital services,” said Erik Ekudden, Ericsson chief technology officer, in a press release. “Already now we have 38 operators engaged with us on developing and preparing for 5G networks. This is more than any other company.”
RELATED: 3GPP declares first 5G NR spec complete
Ericsson’s announcement comes just days after the 3GPP ratified the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) specification for what will form the basis of commercial 5G products. The Standalone (SA) version is due to come in June 2018.
Ericsson was also part of the team, along with Qualcomm, that demonstrated 5G NR interoperability with nine operators: AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telstra, T-Mobile US, Verizon and Vodafone.
Coming off a third quarter where sales decreased by 6% year-over-year, Ericsson has seen some decent-sized wins in 5G lately. It was named the supplier of a multi-standard radio network for one out of two market areas of Deutsche Telekom in Germany, including Ericsson Radio System products for macro and small cell sites and Ericsson Network Manager. Verizon also announced it will deploy Ericsson’s pre-standard 5G commercial radio network and the 5G Core network in select markets in the second half of 2018.
Last month, Ericsson filed a patent application that is said to contain everything needed to build a complete 5G network, from devices to overall network architecture, and will enable use cases involving connected factories and self-driving cars. The landmark filing, a culmination of years of research, includes 400 pages and combines the work of 130 Ericsson inventors.
Ericsson expects there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2023. With the first deployments in dense urban environments, 5G will cover more than 20% of the world’s population by the end of 2023, according to the vendor.