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Swedish telecommunications vendor Ericsson has announced that it will introduce 5G commercial software for radio and core networks which will enable operators to launch 5G services from Q4 in 2018.

Ericsson has evolved its distributed cloud offering in order to optimize applications across multiple sets which will improve latency, security and the resilience of 5G-enabled use cases. By enhancing its 5G platform with new solutions for the radio and core network, it is now 5G-ready for telecom operators.

Telecom Review was invited by Ericsson to attend an exclusive roundtable discussion and media press briefing at their offices in Dubai in relation to their announcement on its commercialized 5G software. Head of Network Campaigns, Market Area Middle East and Africa, Ammar Jamal Ammar outlined Ericsson's 5G journey to this point, and highlighted some of the primary objectives it took into consideration when developing the 5G platform.

Mr. Ammar said, "We're absolutely delighted to formally announce that Ericsson is turning on 5G. Last year, in Barcelona, we announced that we were going to develop a 5G platform, and we've spent the last twelve months developing that platform. We ensured that our research in the radio, in the core, in the transport and in the support system OSS/BSS were all evolved as a platform for the new 5G next-generation technology. Our primary focus when embarking on this project was to increase capacity and reduce the cost per-bit. However, we also focused on how we achieve a seamless evolution from the existing generations of 4G to the new 5G."

The Head of Networks Campaigns delivered an in-depth and fascinating insight into Ericsson's 5G network strategy and stressed the importance of the telecommunications vendor ‘being ready' for the traffic explosion that is expected to happen over networks when 5G becomes commercially available.

Mr. Ammar added, "At Ericsson we recognized that we needed to be ready for the traffic boom that is going to happen over the networks. Video consumption will grow from the existing 50% of traffic it is now to 75%. When we conducted our consumer lab research, we noticed that 7 out of 10 people believe that by 2020, virtual reality and augmented reality will be readily available. This demand and expectation is generating such huge traffic.

"In our Mobility Report that we published in November, we predicted that traffic would grow exponentially from today's 14 Exa-Bytes to 110. We believe that 20% of that is going to come from the 1 billion 5G connections that are predicted by 2023. 5G will become a mainstream service by 2023, and we're going to grow with that. 5G will be adopted faster than 4G and Ericsson will be central to facilitating this demand for both operators and consumers."

Ericsson's 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) which is a commercial software is based on the recently approved 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standardization which was vetoed in December. In addition to this, the Swedish telecommunications colossus has also introduced new products called Street Macro - which is a new site type that addresses the need of operators to grow in cities where there are limited available radio locations.

In order to capture growth opportunities presented by new 5G use cases, Ammar explained that expanding its 5G Core System enabled Ericsson to offer new capabilities to support 5G NR which also enhances its Distributed Cloud solution.

Ericsson introduced its 5G Platform in February 2017 with additions made in September the same year. It comprises the 5G core, radio, and transport portfolios together with OSS/BSS, network services and security.

Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling, expressed his delight at the expansion of the platform and claimed that its enhanced 5G platform could now facilitate operators who wanted to deploy 5G services in Q4 of this year.

He said, "Operators who want to be early with 5G now have the essential pieces for launching 5G networks already this year. With our expanded platform, they will get more efficient networks as well as opportunities to create new revenues from emerging consumer and industrial use cases."

At the roundtable discussion and press briefing it was disclosed that its 5G software will become commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2018. Ericsson's 5G radio network provides multi-band support for global deployment. It will also allow operators to use new frequency spectrum as it becomes available.

Mr. Ammar added, "The 5G radio network software announced today complements Ericsson's already launched baseband and 5G radios. Operators can simply activate their 5G networks and take the first steps with commercial 5G capabilities and new applications leveraging advanced mobile broadband services."

This will cater efficiently to growing data traffic and enable access to multimedia content, such as 4K/8K video streaming and virtual reality/augmented reality. According to Ericsson's new economic study of enhanced mobile broadband, evolution to 5G will enable 10 times lower cost per gigabyte than current 4G.

The radio offering is complemented with 5G Core commercial software that is optimized for 5G throughput, network capacity and scalability. Ericsson's Packet Core and Unified Data Management solutions will deliver enhancements throughout 2018 to efficiently support 5G services. These solutions can be further upgraded with new functionalities as the 3GPP 5G standard evolves.

Ericsson will help accelerate 5G and the growth of Internet of Things by evolving its Distributed Cloud offering for cloud application deployment across multiple sites - central, distributed and edge. Managed, orchestrated, and perceived as one solution, it improves latency, security, and resilience, and fulfils regulatory requirements for 5G-enabled use cases. Ericsson Distributed Cloud combines the best of telecom and cloud to enable networks as open cloud platforms for all workloads, including telecom, consumer, and enterprise applications.

Ericsson introduced a new category of radio products for cities, which it calls Street Macro - a new layer between macro and micro. These radios will be on building facades with a smaller footprint but the necessary strength to secure network efficiency and coverage.

Furthermore, the company unveils new radio products supporting Massive MIMO technology. These products enable a smooth evolution from 4G to 5G and address the need for increased capacity, while simplifying use for wider adoption.

All installed base radios from the Ericsson Radio System delivered since 2015 will be 5G NR-capable by a remote software installation.

Senior Analyst, Global Telecom Technology and Software at Global-Data, Ed Gubbins said that Ericsson's 5G platform will provide the vendor with the opportunity to become a key player in providing 5G solutions in enhanced mobile platform.

He said, "The combination of Ericsson's new products and 5G support for radios already deployed in the field will give operators access to a very broad and flexible 5G portfolio. They will be able to move quickly into enhanced mobile broadband which will allow them to address new opportunities with industrial applications."

Roberto Kompany, Senior Analyst at Analysys Mason says: "Reduced latency, improved throughput, better security, reliability and regulatory compliance are all critical capabilities that operators must deliver for 5G use cases such as augmented reality, assisted factory and autonomous driving vehicles. A distributed cloud capability that enables cloud computing, storage and networking to be placed flexibly in central, regional and edge locations and which can be managed seamlessly, end-to-end, is an important component of a 5G platform."

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