The 5G game is on in 2019 and Ericsson will be a leading driver, President and CEO Börje Ekholm told journalists and analysts during the MWC19 (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona. He stressed the role of 5G as a critical national infrastructure.
Ericsson now has 43 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on 5G with service providers globally, as well as commercial 5G deals with 12 named service provider customers, and is rolling out 5G networks across the globe: in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.
“We are truly switching on 5G around the world in 2019,” he said. “According to Ericsson ConsumerLab research, one-third of smartphone users globally will change either immediately or within six months to a service provider that switches on 5G. Today, the US and Asia are leading in 5G development.”
Ékholm said the first commercial scale 5G beneficiaries will be mobile broadband consumers with massive and highly cost-efficient capacity expansions facilitating new applications in augmented reality and virtual reality in areas such as gaming and sports broadcasts.
But he also stressed how 5G would move the industry beyond consumer products and into the industrial internet, citing ongoing collaborations in both mobile robotics and all-electric, autonomous vehicles as examples.
Ekholm also highlighted how Ericsson Radio System hardware has been 5G-ready since 2015 and can be used also for 5G New Radio (NR) with a remote software installation.
Ericsson has already shipped more than 3 million 5G-ready radios to its customers worldwide with spectrum sharing capabilities and common core and dynamic orchestration solutions.
Ericsson Announces More 5G Agreements
At MWC19, Ericsson announced several agreements on the development of 5G networks in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as two other contracts with Etisalat Misr in Egypt.
The 5G pilot program is designed for the period 2019–2021 and includes three phases of testing various 5G use cases, including Fixed Wireless Access, enhanced mobile broadband and machine-to-machine communications. Ericsson will also give Kazakhtelecom recommendations on network migration to 5G, minimizing the cost of ownership of a future consolidated network.
Ericsson and Russian service provider MTS signed a roadmap on the future of 5G in Russia for the period 2019-2022. This roadmap describes the development and deployment of the first segments of 5Gnetworks as parts of pilot zones and commercial clusters in 2019. For this year it maps out the deployment of the first pre-commercial 5G NR pilot and the launch of the first 5G Fixed Wireless Access pilot in the country. The new agreement also covers the evolution of current 4G networks to high-speed Gigabit LTE networks, as well as further development and launch of commercial solutions and products based on 5G technologies.
The two companies previously signed a 5G cooperation agreement in December 2015 and have hit all targets. They also agreed in 2018 to establish a 5G research center.
Ericsson and Etisalat Misr also signed two new contracts. The first agreement covers the expansion of current 4G capabilities in greater Cairo, including the deployment of 5G-ready Ericsson Radio System. The second extends a current managed services contract for a further five years.