Ericsson radio updates and transport partnerships to accelerate 5G deployments

Ericsson says a series of product launches, partnerships and acquisitions will accelerate 5G rollout and make it easier for operator customers to take full advantage of the benefits of next generation networks.

The strategic moves concern the radio, core and management levels of the network, affording operators greater flexibility in how they use spectrum, manage the Internet of Things, and virtualise various network functions.

The latter is critical for the ultra-low latency that will power many of 5G’s most transformative applications.

Ericsson 5G

Updates to the Ericsson Radio System mean operators have greater control over where Radio Access Network (RAN) and hardware functions such as beamforming are deployed on the network. Essentially this means they can be located within the core of the network or close to the radio site, with compute closer to the point of data collection for lower latency.

The addition of spectrum sharing means that operators can deploy 4G and 5G services within the same spectrum band simultaneously, expediating the provision of nationwide 5G coverage as operators don’t need to dedicate existing LTE assets to 5G – a move which would negatively impact 4G performance.

Indeed, one of the arguments put forward by supporters of T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed merger is that its rivals won’t be able to deliver true nationwide coverage because of their reliance on millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum assets and they will have to negatively impact their 4G services to deliver 5G.

The first 5G services are expected to go live later in the US later this year, serving up Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband in major cities.

Ericsson is offering new street macro transport solutions simplify the deployment of high level millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum to boost capacity, while it has also successfully tested the first multivendor call on 39GHz. This band will be a key feature of all early North American 5G networks.

Industry partnerships

Ericsson’s transport portfolio will also be boosted by partnerships with Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom, integrating their technologies to allow for a more perfect alignment of radio, core and transport layers of 5G networks.

All three vendors’ products will be managed from the same console and there will be integrated Software Defined Networking (SDN) controls that allow for network slicing and traffic optimisation.

Ericsson has moved to further enhance its automation capabilities with the acquisition of US firm CENX, which it had held a minority stake in since 2012.

“Our radio expertise and knowledge in network architecture, end-user applications and standardization work put us in an excellent position to understand the requirements 5G places on transport,” declared Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. 

“By combining our leading transport portfolio with best-in-class partners, we will boost our transport offering and create the critical building blocks of next-generation transport networks that benefit our customers.”

Finally, the company is working with Sprint on a fully dedicated, distributed and virtualised Internet of Things (IoT) core network and operating system (OS). This will allow operators to turn data collected from IoT devices into immediate insights by analysing it at the network edge.

The network and OS platforms will be 5G ready, opening up the door for latency-sensitive applications like AI and robotics.

The Swedish giant is one of the ‘big three’ telecommunications network equipment manufacturers, along with Nokia and Huawei, with all set to provide the lions’ share of kit for worldwide 5G developments.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.