7. The next milestone was Lundqvist’s decision in 1982, against the will of group management, that SRA would sell mobile telephone systems in the US. SRA taught itself the American AMPS mobile standard in record time and adapted its equipment so it could take 30 percent of the American market – and thanks to its newly acquired technological know-how, win Vodafone as a customer as well.

8. Another huge step came with the tests carried out by Groupe Spécial Mobile in Paris at the end of 1986 and beginning of 1987 in preparation for the decision on GSM, the European 2G standard. To cut a long story short, the Nordic countries beat their Franco-German competitors, largely thanks to the systems approach that can be traced back to NMT. This approach lies at the heart of both L.M. Ericsson and Nokia, and they were the major 2G victors.

9. Twelve years later, on January 29, 1998, Jan Uddenfeldt, CTO at Ericsson, together with Yrjö Neuvo, his counterpart at Nokia, won the battle over the standard for 3G. This was also decided in Paris at a stormy meeting in which Uddenfeldt and Neuvo persuaded the vast majority of the world’s operators to back their WCDMA concept, a further development of GSM.

THREATENED THE INDUSTRY

10. The 3G hype around the dawn of the new millennium threatened to wipe out large sections of the telecom industry. Through the collective endeavors of the major Swedish shareholders, a new rights issue was able to save Ericsson in the summer of 2002.

11. The appointment of Carl-Henric Svanberg as CEO and member of the board shifted the balance of power in the group. Svanberg put an end to private fiefs, centralized procedures and initiated a cultural revolution intended to include all employees in strategic planning. By threatening to resign, he managed to push through a major savings program at his first board meeting. This laid the groundwork for profitability levels that Ericsson had never previously enjoyed.

12. In November 2007, the fourth contest on standards, for 4G, was decided when the gigantic American operator Verizon abandoned a competing approach and opted for Ericsson’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) concept. For the first time in history, this paved the way for a joint global standard.

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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