Ericsson is opening a design center in Austin, Texas, to focus on microelectronics and accelerating the path to 5G commercialization. The Austin ASIC Design Center is open now and recruitments are ongoing.
ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit. Such microelectronics are at the core of all Ericsson Radio Systems and can be seen as processors that are specially made for the computation needs of mobile infrastructure. They are 100x faster, more cost-efficient, and less power hungry than a general processor in a personal computer.
Sinisa Krajnovic, Head of Development Unit Networks, Ericsson, says: “We are strengthening our radio design capability in one of the world’s 5G pioneer markets. We’ll be up and running with our first group of designers in Austin by the end of 2017. Along with our ASIC design teams in Sweden and China, we’ll be making faster, better and greener 5G products to bring into the Ericsson portfolio by 2019.”
The Design center will be centrally located in Austin’s tech neighborhood, near other processor manufacturers. Working close to the major Silicon-fab houses and fostering collaborations will contribute to Ericsson bringing core silicon technology to develop its unique and dedicated ASICs.
Niklas Heuveldop, Head of Ericsson North America, says: “Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US with a bustling tech and start up scene. We want to capture the great talent on-hand there, enabling us to increase digital ASIC capabilities even further and be close to some of our key global customers.”
At Mobile World Congress Americas, Sprint and Ericsson announced the results of the first U.S. 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) field tests conducted in Seattle, Washington and Plano, Texas using Sprint’s spectrum and Ericsson’s 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) radios. The two companies are preparing for commercial deployment next year, with Massive MIMO radios capable of increasing Sprint’s network capacity up to ten times.
Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO, said, “Massive MIMO is a tremendous competitive advantage for Sprint, enabling us to maximize our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
Testing of Massive MIMO on the Sprint LTE Plus network in downtown Seattle showed a capacity increase of approximately four times compared to an 8T8R antenna. To showcase this capacity, Sprint convened 100 people with Samsung Galaxy S7 phones and ran simultaneous file downloads on a timed-test on all networks. The testing showed a 100 percent success rate on the Massive MIMO-powered Sprint network.
In Plano, Texas, Sprint and Ericsson also recently tested Ericsson’s 64T64R Massive MIMO radios reaching peak speeds of more than 300 Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel of 2.5 GHz spectrum.
For both field trials, Ericsson provided the radio network infrastructure and backhaul equipment. Sprint and Ericsson together developed the test cases and requirements, which included a variety of performance scenarios involving multi-user and non-stationary testing. The Radio Network infrastructure included Ericsson’s next-generation 5G-ready AIR6468 radio, and the backhaul equipment utilized the MINI-LINK 6352 R2 microwave radios which can provide up to 10 Gbps of backhaul, future proofing the network for 5G.
Even though there is no standard yet, Ericsson announced that its platform now includes an FDD radio from capable of supporting 5G and Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO). The new radio will provide a bridge between fourth generation and fifth generation wireless using today’s spectrum allocations.
The AIR 3246 is designed to complement to Ericsson’s global 5G radio offering, supporting both 4G/LTE and 5G NR (New Radio) technologies. Operators will be able to bring 5G to subscribers using mid-band spectrum and boost capacity in their LTE networks.
Ericsson’s 5G Platform includes three previously launched time division duplex (TDD) radios capable of supporting 5G and Massive MIMO, as well as core, transport, digital support and security elements.
The radio will enhance 4G capacity for subscribers today and simplify the transition to 5G in the future, according to Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson.
Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director at the Dell’Oro Group, said, “With an expected installed base of 10 million LTE macro radios in high traffic and metro areas by 2021, service providers are expected to capitalize on the improved spectral efficiency made possible with Massive MIMO.”
FDD Massive MIMO is part of a trial with T-Mobile US, on three sites in Baltimore, Maryland, which will be the first time that standardized Massive MIMO will be used to carry commercial LTE traffic using mid-band FDD spectrum.
Massive MIMO on FDD can increase network capacity up to three times and bring up to five times better user throughput, boosting performance for the end users. Today’s global base is primarily on FDD technology and devices, which separates uplink and downlink streams on different radio frequencies.
Commercially available in the second quarter 2018, AIR 3246 will be part of Ericsson Radio System.
Verizon, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies continue to push the LTE speed envelope breaking the Gigabit speed barrier. The companies achieved an industry first with commercial silicon and network infrastructure with 1.07 Gbps download speeds using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE Modem during an Ericsson lab trial.
This 1.07 Gbps achievement builds on Verizon’s recent announcement about Gigabit LTE with support for License Assisted Access (LAA). Also of significance, the 1.07 Gbps speed was achieved using only three 20 megahertz carriers of (Frequency Division Duplex using separate transmit and receive frequencies) spectrum, achieving new levels of spectral efficiency for commercial networks and devices. These efficiencies will enable the delivery of the Gigabit class experience to more customers and lead to new wireless innovations.
The companies achieved the 1.07 Gbps industry milestone by using 12 simultaneous LTE streams, which allow for up to 20 percent increase in peak data rates and capacity with a corresponding improvement in average speeds. Ericsson’s Radio System and LTE software, in concert with a mobile test device based on the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, enabled these high speeds.
The lab tests also used 4×4 MIMO per carrier, 256 QAM per carrier, which enables customer devices and the network to exchange information in large amounts, delivering more bits of data in each transmission.
Ericsson is cutting 25,000 jobs or one quarter of its work force in response to its continuing performance woes, according to unnamed sources quoted in a report by the Swedish newspaper, SVD Naringsliv.
The OEM has made no official announcement but it hinted that change was coming during its second quarter earnings call, where it reported a loss before taxes of SEK 1.2 billion, down from a profit of SEK 2.2 billion year over year. Revenues also dropped from SEK 54.1 billion to SEK 49.9 billion in the quarter. Sales adjusted for comparable units and currency declined by 13 percent.
“We are not satisfied with our underlying performance with continued declining sales and increasing losses in the quarter,” Börje Ekholm, Ericsson president and CEO, said during the earnings call. “In light of the current market environment and company performance, we are accelerating actions to reduce costs.”
The Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment market will decline in the high single-digits for the full year 2017, in line with the first half performance and Ericsson’s estimates for the second half. In response to this market, the OEM has increased network research and development and plans to ramp up deliveries of the Ericsson Radio System (ERS).
“Our focused business strategy is designed to take us back to technology and market leadership and improve company performance, also in a tough market,” Ekholm said. “The ERS continues to prove its competitiveness and now represents 49 percent of radio unit deliveries in the quarter. During the quarter, we announced a break-through contract to support Vodafone UK to evolve its 4G network and to provide 5G radio technology.”
Along with reducing the workforce, Ericsson plans to reduce the capitalization of the product platform, software release development and hardware.
Another component in Ericsson’s strategy is to reduce costs and increase efficiency is refocusing the Managed Services business. So far, it has identified 42 contracts that it will either exit, renegotiate or change in some way.
“Considering the current market environment, the company position, and the more focused business strategy, we continue to assess risk exposure in ongoing contracts,” Ekholm said. “To date, we have either exited, renegotiated or transformed nine of these contracts resulting in an annualized profit improvement of approximately SEK 140 million going forward,” Ekholm said.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. Click here to contact him.