MWC Q&A: Ericsson CMO Helena Norrman

When it comes to wireless infrastructure Ericsson has never been a follower.

Ericsson recently announced it has successfully delivered the world’s first end-to-end 5G trial demonstration in collaboration with South Korea’s SK Telecom.  In addition, the two companies also announced the world’s first intercontinental 5G network trial with the help of Germany’s incumbent Deutsche Telekom. The trial allowed each operator to create a slice in the other’s network to enable a seamless roaming experience through smart, virtual network provisioning.

The two projects make up a small chunk of a raft of R&D projects Ericsson are undertaking to edge the world into the 5G era. With all this research happening, we spoke to the company’s chief marketing and communications officer Helena Norrman, to ask her what all these 5G breakthroughs really mean for carriers, businesses and consumers.

Ericsson is one of the mobile industry’s leading lights. What can attendees expect from you this week at MWC?

They should expect us to be fully focused on them and how we together can work to make them more successful. They will experience some exciting demonstrations on technologies such as 5G; platforms and services for IT, Cloud, Networks and TV & Media. Non-telco customers will see connected solutions for their own industries including IoT solutions. We would like our customers to be inspired by Ericsson, our newly introduced products and solutions and by meeting and talking to our experts. Last year we met nearly 5000 customers in over 500 meetings/tours in our Hall – we expect to see some increase this year.

We also have an outer area open for all visitors where we will show many innovative demos, with a focus on how ICT can accelerate reaching the global Sustainable Development Goals.

You recently introduced your 5G Platform which boasts being the first to market solution that combines radio and core networks. Can you summarise what that means for operators?

We have introduced a 5G platform for the needs of the first movers in 5G. It comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with digital support systems, transformation services and security.  Ericsson is first to market with combined core and radio for 5G use cases, accelerating the journey to 5G with today’s networks. On the radio and transport – we have launched global 5G access and transport portfolio covering all frequency ranges. Our first 5G Core System capable of 5G use cases, based on network slices – working with the newly launched 5G New Radio (NR) and also enhanced with 5 new core capabilities. One of them is federated network slicing, which we have also demonstrated with DT and SK Telecom.

Naturally, we will continue to augment the 5G platform, enabling more advanced use cases and new business models over time.

Ericsson CMO Helena Norman (Image: Ericsson)

What we see is that operators are speeding up their journey to 5G to be able to offer the network capacity, quality and new functionality needed to grab the attractive business opportunities of the years to come. 5G differs from 4G and offers a network to support new services for industries, enterprises and consumers. By 2022, we expect to see an eightfold increase in mobile data traffic, 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions and 1.5 billion cellular IoT devices in the world. For operators, this represents potential to generate significant growth in revenues.

What kinds of growth opportunities or new revenue streams does this open up for mobile operators?

By 2022, we expect to see an eightfold increase in mobile data traffic, 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions and 1.5 billion cellular IoT devices in the world, as reported in our Ericsson Mobility Report from November 2016.

Ericsson expects that in 2026, there will be a USD 582 billion market opportunity globally as telecom operators leverage 5G technology for industry digitalization. For operators, this represents potential to add 34 percent growth in revenues in 2026. In a forthcoming study, Ericsson finds that for operators the manufacturing and energy/utility sectors represent the biggest opportunity for revenues created or enhanced by 5G.

Tell us about the Distributed Cloud feature and what it means for scalability?

The Distributed cloud facilitates short latency applications, such as real-time face recognition, by moving applications and workloads closer to the access. In addition, the 5G-enabled packet core will allow full separation of control and user data, as well as unprecedented capacity and user data rates.

Tell us about your recent 5G breakthrough with IBM?

IBM & Ericsson have developed a so-called compact silicon-based millimetre Wave (mmWave) phased array integrated circuit designed for use in future 5G base stations. This technology is an important achievement due to its size and performance, and also represents major progress towards a commercially viable solution that could help accelerate the launch of 5G-ready commercial networks.

Expansion of the spectrum for mobile communications into mmWave frequencies offers dramatically wider bandwidths and faster data rates for business and consumers. However, in order for this spectrum to be used by 5G in 2020, an entirely new mmWave-enabled wireless infrastructure for communications is required including new base station designs that will support communications at these frequencies.

You recently conducted the world’s first intercontinental 5G trial with DT and SK telecom, can you tell us about the trial?

The Federated Network slicing trial between DT, SK Telecom and Ericsson, demonstrated in Bonn, successfully shows optimised end-user experiences with 5G federated network slicing.

The demo featured an industrial maintenance use case involving a repair worker communicating via Augmented Reality with a colleague in a partner operator network. The scenario enables the best service experience in terms of latency and throughput for the AR repairman.

Federated network slicing extends the concept of network slicing to a partner operator network. This technology will make it possible for an operator to provide a network service globally, making sure that the enterprise customer does not need individual agreements with different operators for a global service experience

How much of an impact will 5G have when it comes to things like IoT, video on demand and Autonomous vehicles?

5G will have an enormous impact on IoT. 5G differs from 4G, and offers a network to support new services for industries, enterprises and consumers. By 2022, we expect to see an eightfold increase in mobile data traffic, 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions and 1.5 billion cellular IoT devices in the world. 5G will be 100 times faster, to cope with 1,000 times the amount of traffic and five times shorter delay than today’s 4G. The network will also be able to connect to 100 times more devices and also be more cost effective.

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We recently did a record-breaking trial with BMW and SK Telecom where we achieved more than 3,5 GBPS at 170 KMPH speed.

In addition to 5GAA we have also launched the “5G-ConnectedMobility” – a cross-industry consortium for 5G research and development on the “digital test field motorway” in Germany. It is an Ericsson initiative and BMW is part of this as well.

What kind of value proposition will 5G offer manufacturers and heavy industry?

Industrial IOT is predicted to be one of largest segments for investments in IOT. It will also benefit in a number of ways as the Industry will be required to modernise and digitalize. We showed already a few years back how Maersk benefitted in the logistics part of the Industry.

This will hold true also for transport using trucks and for example the platooning use cases we have demonstrated with partners.

Another example where we are involved is in the mining industry, where underground positioning, remote operation of machinery, smart ventilation and so on, are examples of 5G and mobility shows great potential in efficiency and savings as well as personal safety.

In traditional manufacturing, a trend is to have more flexible manufacturing, which would require the machinery to be mobile and thus controlled. This can be achieved with wireless coverage. The ability to remotely or even automatically control your processes with very short delays is, of course, another demanding case which will likely change the industry.

Ericsson’s booth and demos can be found in Hall 2 at Mobile World Congress this week.