It seems no company is looking forward to 5G more than Ericsson, after a difficult 2017. The OEM launched its 5G RAN commercial software today, based on the recently approved first 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standard. It also introduced a new category of radio products called Street Macro – a new site type that addresses the need of operators to grow in cities with limited available radio locations. The company also announced today that its Ericsson Radio System products are ready for 5G NR. (See companion article.)
To capture growth opportunities presented by new 5G use cases, Ericsson expanded its 5G Core System with new capabilities to support 5G NR and also enhances its distributed cloud solution.
“Operators who want to be early with 5G now have the essential pieces for launching 5G networks already this year,” said Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “With our expanded platform, they will get more efficient networks as well as opportunities to create new revenues from emerging consumer and industrial use cases.”
The 5G radio network software announced today complements Ericsson’s already launched baseband and 5G radios. Operators can activate their 5G networks, according to the OEM, and take the first steps with commercial 5G.
Last December, Ericsson turned on a 5G NR cell in the mmW frequencies in the city of Torino, which reached speeds of more 20 Gbps.
The radio offering is complemented with 5G core commercial software optimized for 5G throughput, network capacity and scalability. Ericsson’s Packet Core and Unified Data Management solutions will deliver enhancements throughout 2018 to efficiently support 5G services. These solutions can be further upgraded with new functionalities as the 3GPP 5G standard evolves.
Ericsson made wholesale changes in 2017 including a reduction in workforce, as sales decreased by 10 percent due to a continued decline in LTE orders.
“We continued to execute on efficiency improvements with a net reduction of 10,000 employees and external workforce in the quarter,” said Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson.
In the fourth quarter, sales declined by 7 percent year over year. YoY. For 2018, the Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment market is expected to decline by 2 percent, compared with estimated 8 percent in 2017. The Chinese market is expected to continue to decline due to reduced LTE investments, while there is positive momentum in North America.
“During a challenging 2017, we have developed and started to execute on a focused strategy, strengthening our R&D while at the same time introducing robust measures to reduce cost and commercial risk,” Ekholm said. “We have now laid the foundation for achieving our financial targets.”
Segment Networks showed “stable performance” with the ramp of Ericsson Radio System (ERS), representing 71 percent of radio unit deliveries in the quarter. Networks adjusted gross margin increased to 36 percent YoY and the success of 5G-ready portfolio continues.
“In the quarter, we made deliveries related to our market share gain in Mainland China and we signed several break-through contracts, including with Verizon and Deutsche Telekom,” Ekholm said. “We have continued to increase our R&D efforts to safeguard a future leading portfolio and to significantly improve our gross margin.”
VoLTE subscriptions are expected to exceed 650 million by the end of 2017, creating a foundation for interoperable consumer and enterprise communication services on different devices, according to Ericsson’s Q3 Mobility Report.
The report said that VoLTE has now been launched in more than 125 networks in over 60 countries across all regions. The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 5.5 billion by the end of 2023, accounting for more than 80 percent of the combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.
VoLTE support in Cat-M1-capable Internet of Things (IoT) devices and network infrastructure is now being enabled, and new use cases are being explored. VoLTE will be the foundation for voice calls over 5G access.
There are more than 1,300 VoLTE-enabled device models. Cellular smartwatches are one of the latest devices to utilize VoLTE. Users are able to make voice calls directly on their smartwatch, without having a smartphone nearby. Calls can also be transferred between a user’s smartphone and watch.
VoLTE is delivered via the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and enables operators to offer high-quality, simultaneous communication and data services on smartphones and other devices.
For more information, go to https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/reports/november-2017
In a trial of 5G technologies, NTT DOCOMO, Toyota, Ericsson and Intel achieved data speeds of 1 Gbps for 4K-resolution video with a vehicle traveling at 18 miles per hour. This initial multi-party trial conducted along Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront on Nov. 2 involved a moving vehicle mounted with an Intel GOTM 5G Automotive Platform terminal and equipped with a compact on-board antenna head designed for connected car trials.
Traveling at a speed of 18 MPH through a 5G trial environment constructed by DOCOMO in the Odaiba area, with multiple Ericsson base stations and Cloud-RAN, the vehicle successfully streamed live 4K video at data speeds of up to 1 Gbps downlink/600 Mbps uplink, demonstrating 5G’s ultra-high speed data rates, extra-low latency and massive connectivity.
Further trials will be conducted in cooperation with Ericsson, Intel and Toyota to test the practicality of services for 5G-connected cars and other applications. This accomplishment marks the first 5G multi-vendor interoperability trial involving a device connected to a base station in an automotive environment.
DOCOMO has been partnering with leading companies in its drive to develop new services based on 5G technologies. Since May, DOCOMO has been operating 5G Trial Sites to let everyday customers view and experience emerging 5G technologies that may be incorporated into new products and services in the future.
The NTT Group and Toyota have also agreed to collaborate in the research and development of an ICT platform for 5G-connected cars.
Going forward, DOCOMO will continue to work with diverse global partners to develop and standardize 5G technologies for advanced services in the field of automobiles and beyond.
The 5G Readiness Survey 2017 shows that many operators have accelerated preparations for the new technology and trials are being carried out by 78 percent of the respondents. Furthermore, 28 percent of the respondents expect to deploy 5G next year.
The survey also shows that operators have further developed their business strategies for 5G services. They are now looking beyond the consumer segment and foresee opportunities in the enterprise and industrial segments as well.
In the 2016 survey, 90 percent of the respondents pointed to consumers as the main segment in their 5G business planning. This year, it is an even split between three segments and operators have identified business opportunities not only in the consumer segment but also with enterprise users and specialized industries.
According to the survey, operators are seeing that the consumer market is becoming saturated. As a result, 5G planning this year is more evenly distributed across specialized industry segments (58 percent), business users (56 percent), and consumers (52 percent).
The top three industry sectors that were highlighted by the respondents were media and entertainment, automotive and public transport but many also ranked healthcare as well as energy and utilities among the most attractive sectors for 5G applications. A clear majority of the respondents believe that Internet of Things will play an important role and that third-party collaboration will be essential in this context.
In terms of 5G monetization, the respondents believe that additional revenue will be generated from increased market share, migration of 4G subscribers, higher prices for new services, and by expansion into new enterprise and industry segments.
The respondents, 50 executives in business and technical areas, were interviewed in July and work for 37 operators globally that have announced publicly they are working on 5G.
For more information, please download the full report at: