Ericssson set to drive 5G, Industry 4.0 seamlessly

Ericsson recently organized the Unboxed Office webinar. Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of the Ericsson Group, welcomed everyone to the new normal. We, at Ericsson had made a transition to remote work in early March, and now, we have 85,000+ people WFH. In our new common reality, the importance of strong, reliable networks remains stronger than ever. We have plans in place to deliver our resilience. We are proud of the telecom networks’ and our company’s resilience in this pandemic. We have also helped customers in China. We have also worked with partners to meet Covid-19-related challenges. We have achieved all of this with seamless transition.

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What we do as an industry, has never been more important to the world. Right now, we need to tackle the short-term challenges. We will also invest more in our own digital transformation. With the pandemic, the fixed and mobile telecom networks have become key. We have analysed why some CSPs grow and drive networks much more. In a new analysis, we have done a research on how network quality drives revenue. SPs with highest network quality have the highest ARPU and churn. Network quality remains one of the biggest factors of churn. Investing in network quality keeps the customers happy. We expect quality network connectivity to be of even more importance in the 5G era. The next three years will determine the business of 5G.

Role of Industry 4.0
Jon Gamble, Business Builder, Ericsson, showed some of the latest demos. We look at IoT from the mobile operator’s perspective. A typical car factory resides in Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 or smart manufacturing changes the whole factory floor. 5G delivers precise positioning as well. Smart manufacturing will exist, but it will also need 5G.

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About 90% of all the things that we produce are shipped to ports. We can also see the need for a traffic tower. The next step is to activate the car. The next step is to also see the car in action. The surroundings also have to be very smart. For example, a car can teach the other cars that the ground may be dangerous in front of it. We can also see that features can be altered in vehicles. We can also have a much more efficient recycling process. Since 4G was introduced, VoLTE has been very much at work. We are now introducing VoLTE into scooters. Critical automation comes with 5G. We have a collaboration with Audi. In the demo, we have a robotic arm sitting inside. This robot has a connected brain. URLLC also stands for high reliability.

Börje Ekholm added that Ericsson delivers cost-efficient high-performance networks. The first 5G network was launched with Ericsson. We have 30+ networks globally. By 2026, nearly half of the radio traffic will be carried by 5G networks. We have a holistic approach, and that means, 5G is also sustainable. Recently, we increased 5G share in China, and have a deal with BT.

The key for 5G success will be the development of an ecosystem. Consumers are also willing to pay up to 20% for premium 5G. This emphasises the importance of network quality. 70% of the enterprises want to partner with telecom service providers for digital transformation. We performed studies across 10 industries. From cost and carbon footprint, energy is one of the biggest challenges. We have to roll out networks with higher energy efficiency. Leaner 5G radio systems can also help achieve this. We have to be sustainable as well.

Jon Gamble continued that the Ericsson spectrum sharing is such an important piece. Over 80% customers will start spectrum sharing very soon. It’s basically a software upgrade on your existing system. There should be energy consumption in the network. It is aligned with network traffic. Now, we have to break the energy curve.

Regarding AI and automation, he said that operating a network is now a tough job. Right now, we are looking at AI by design. Going from ML to machine reasoning is the next step. Improved customer experience is one of the problems we need to solve with AI. AI is a brain with knowledge and reasoning. We are having federated learning at one station. You get a very smart, central brain. Some key learnings by doing 5G: How do you introduce performance and network architecture? Telstra has a strategy in Australia. They want to expand to new business cases.

Shift in traffic
Later, Christine Luby, Brand Content Marketing Manager, Ericsson, got into a conversation with Patrik Sewell, Executive Editor, and Jasmeet Sethi, Head, Consumer Labs, Ericsson.

Sewell said that a lot of traffic around has shifted. A lot of the traffic that shifted was absorbed by the fixed network. There was also a lot of shift from business areas to residential areas. There was peak in 2G and 3G voice, and also VoLTE. Mobile data also saw an increase of 20%. Now, we are seeing a lot of peaks during the day. You need to make sure that the capacity should be where it is needed. More traffic is also happening on the mobile networks.

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Jasmeet Sethi noted that Ericsson initially had challenges such as collaboration. Consumers are also needing help. We have done that, and consumers have shared their experiences. We have done a research with 700 million people. 7/10 consumers are saying that the crisis has impacted to their daily lives. In India and Spain, 8/10 are saying that the impact has been phenomenal. In Sweden, 4/10 consumers are saying that the impact has been phenomenal. 6/10 seniors are saying that there is reliable video calling. There is strong dependence on ICT.

We see that the networks are not strained. The consumers are also maintaining a positive attitude. In India, there is a weak fix broadband infrastructure. Despite all the strain, 66% of India has indicated that the networks are performing better.

Sewell added that when people are moving their traffic, a number of things are happening. There was 40% increase in the downloading of games. Also, video conferencing has seen a spike, as expected. The traffic increase will continue, at least for some time. We are going to see that across the world.

Sethi said that the average time for fixed broadband has increased by over 2 hours, and mobile broadband has gone up by an hour. Education and e-learning may see twice the time. Also, online shopping may go up as well.

Five trends
According to Sethi, Ericsson sees five major trends: One, the whole perception of networks is getting redefined. Telecom is now in the spotlight. Second, there is a shift towards autonomous commerce, as consumers believe more in contactless.  Third, there will be secure, borderless workspaces. Remote working will be the new normal. Fourth, synchronous care, such as telemedicine and telecare, will go up. 6/10 consumers believe that online health consultation will be more popular. Fifth, we are having the virtual experience economy. Virtual goods will become much more important to you. Each one is likely to foster a new, emerging technology. He added that 4/10 consumers feel that rollout of 5G can be accelerated. 5G also comes in, for preparing people for a global crisis.

Sewell noted that 5G presents an interesting case. We said there will be 13mn 5G subscribers in the world by end of 2019. Now, we have to increase the forecast for 2020. It may vary as per the country. Long term, we are looking at probably, 2.8 bn subscribers by 2025. 5G will play an important role, going forward. Economies will need to kick start once lockdowns ease. There should be efforts to make networks ready with 5G.

Swisscom prioritises 5G
Later, Daniel Staub, Head of Joint Mobile Group at Swisscom, said there is an intense competition on pricing in Switzerland. 5G deployment is now a top priority for us. 5G is required to confirm our position as a market leader. We want to also reduce the TCO. We would also want to tap into the new business opportunities. It has been a long journey for many years. Ericsson, with Swiss universities and the industry partners, has been working with us. We were the first to introduce 5G. We have very close collaboration with Ericsson.

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It is very important to drive the entire ecosystem forward. There should be very fast coverage with 5G. We made use the of dynamic spectrum sharing. Next, we are looking at 5G Fast. As per the FCC, the strategy includes three key components for the 5G FAST Plan:
* pushing more spectrum into the marketplace;
* updating infrastructure policy; and
* modernizing outdated regulations.

Staub added that we are relying on the rollout of 5G on 3.6 GHz. 5G brings additional complexity in the network. 5G is an ecosystem play. It is very important to collaborate with the device and chipset manufacturers as well. We also have to look at the customer needs. Complexity of 5G is increasing. Analytics and automation are now very important. People are also concerned about health issues.

One of the cornerstones of our partnership with Ericsson is the joint mobile group. We have constantly improved our network performance over the last 3-4 years. Ericsson has been strongly engaged in defining our strategy, and executing on our promise.

Börje Ekholm concluded the proceedings. He said that Ericsson has the best people in the industry. We are well aware of the various theories of 5G going around. The WHO says that 5G mobile networks do not spread Covid-19. We support all public and private stakeholders. We believe it is in public interest to provide a high-quality network. 5G will be the greatest innovation platform ever.
The governments should ensure that every citizen will enjoy the benefits of 5G. Sufficient 5G spectrum should be made available as soon as possible. Neither China nor Japan charged for spectrum. They have some of the densest 5G networks.

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