Ericsson says Europe will see 5G launches in 2018

Ericsson says hard work in 5G resides in defining industry business and use cases, as operators push for 2018 launches.

5G will be the first mobile network generation that will be rolled out simultaneously across continents, according to Ericsson’s head of Western Europe Arun Bansal. That would mean 2018 launches of commercial 5G services in Europe.

Bansal said Europe would lead the way in providing industry-focussed coverage solutions to enable things such as industrial and manufacturing automation, as well as remote healthcare.

Meanwhile, 5G in the USA will be lead by Fixed Wireless Access as operators use 5G radio capabilities to provide broadband to up to 38 million properties that cannot get fixed access. In Japan and South Korea 5G will be mainly consumer-led, with much wider coverage and focus on apps such as AR and VR.

This diversity of use cases will be supported by 5G’s three key platforms – its flexible 5G New Radio access, its network slicing cloud core and its support for automated operations.

However, although the technology is very exciting, Bansal added that the hardest work to be done on 5G is to define business models for 5G. That requires discussions with industry partners, of course, to understand and define requirements. It also involves regulatory discussions to define what is allowable under net neutrality laws.

Ericsson’s view is that, in Western Europe, 5G can lead to an overall 36% revenue uplift for industry across a range of sectors, as utilities, healthcare, manufacturing, media, transport and a range of other sectors benefit from being able to offer customers new products and services.

But this can’t happen without increased engagement between the telco industry and the verticals (businesses and enterprises that might use 5G’s capabilities) themselves.

She added that the vendor is currently in deep discussions with European operators for the commercial launch of 5G services in 2018

At its 5GNow event Ericsson is showing a range of those potential use cases – including remote healthcare, immersive gaming, security and industrial automation. Each of these is intended to relate to a specific network capability – ie MEC for low latency, 5G NR for high throughput, federated slicing for differentiated SLAs, embedded security.

The European Mario project to design a robot that can communicate with dementia patients could, for instance, be enhanced with cloud-based processing and connectivity  – enabled by edge-based 5G networks – to provide greater location and environmental awareness, prolong battery life and enable it to carry out more complex tasks.

Cloud Core Ready

Inma Rodriguez, Head of Telco Cloud & Core, Ericsson, said that meeting this diversity of use cases would rely on an evolved, distributed core network that can federate and automate network slicing. This may involve a separate core for IoT-specific rollouts, she added, as telcos choose their migration strategies. But in any event the target architecture is a distributed one, with a microservices-based approach that gives operators the ability to instantiate services into the cloud as required.

The upshot, again, is in meeting those diverse use cases. “As an operator you can have power to negotiate with different industries what they need from you – and no-one else will be able to do this,” Rodriguez said.

She added that the vendor is currently in deep discussions with European operators for the commercial launch of 5G services in 2018, some including an evolved core network capability and others with dedicated core functionality for IoT services.