Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm has told its service provider customers that 5G is no longer an abstract concept, but is rapidly becoming a reality.
Speaking at MWC 18 in Barcelona, he said that superior mobile broadband would be the first large scale use case, but it would work with operators to determine the true benefits of next generation networks.
Over the past 12 months, there has been a shift from speculation to concrete details in the world of 5G, a transition that can in part be explained by the definition of the first 5G standard and the prospect of commercial deployments in 2019, rather than 2020.
Ericsson has signed 38 memorandums of understanding with operators and expects to complete some commercial deployments by the end of 2018.
“We will focus not only on why and what, but also on how. This is what our customers – the service providers – want to discuss,” he said. “Customer feedback was the foundation for our focused strategy launched last year and now in how we are showcasing our products and technologies in our hall.”
It is expected that 5G will deliver gigabit speeds, huge capacity and extremely low latency. This means it should reduce costs, something which is appealing to operators who will have to cope with a 40 percent increase in data traffic each year.
Indeed, it is predicted that a 4G and 5G enabled site could deliver mobile data at one tenth of the cost.
Ericsson says it can not only improve efficiency, help determine the services that will attract users, and explain the technologies, such as radio access networks (RAN), network slicing and machine intelligence that will make 5G a commercial success.
Unsurprisingly, it is looking to tempt early adopters by claiming it make their 4G networks ‘5G ready’ by pre-emptively rolling out the radio, virtualisation and transport technologies to existing infrastructure.
“We don’t know which use cases will ultimately be the most important for 5G, but we know that early adopters tend to get a sustainable advantage,” added Ekholm.
Telstra in Australia is one such operator working with Ericsson on this strategy. The two firms are working together on a “roadmap” to extend Telstra’s LTE network and rollout 5G-ready features.
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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.