Digital Transformation Drives the Future for 5G Operators Globally
At the recent SoftBank World 2023 in Japan, Ericsson and other speakers shared their vision of the future for 5G operators as it relates to digital transformation. Luca Orsini, President and Representative Director, Ericsson Japan, spoke with Hideyuki Tsukuda, Senior Managing Executive Officer and CTO, Technology Unit at SoftBank Corp., and Tai Yew Liang, Managing Director of Singapore Telecom Networks. Here are a few Ericsson highlights from their discussion.
Imagine the future in 2030
Ericsson's vision for 2030 is a world where limitless connectivity improves lives, redefines business and pioneers a sustainable future. By "connectivity" we mean ubiquitous, high-performance, resilient, secure and power-efficient connectivity. By “lives”, we focus on the fact that there are billions of people that Ericsson has connected as a company for more than 140 years. To resolve the Digital Divide, we have to connect 1.5 to 2 billion people. “Businesses” refers to hundreds of millions of factories and companies that require DX. With technologies such as cloud, AI, and IoT, DX opportunities can be offered. And of course, the sustainability is widely required in the society.
Ericsson's primary customers are communications service providers (CSPs). Our mission is to empower CSPs to deliver exceptional experiences to their users and provide our business partners with easy-to-use, easy-to-install products and solutions. Network performance is of utmost importance to us, and we are constantly striving to improve efficiency and create new revenue streams for CSPs.
Ericsson's strategy has two main pillars. The first pillar is leadership in mobile networks. For more than 140 years, we've invested in improving technology, reducing costs, and making it more sustainable. We aim to increase our market share and support CSPs' disruptive technology transitions, including Cloud, openness, and data-driven operations.
The other pillar is the enterprise business, which has two aspects. The first is private 5G, which provides connectivity to businesses and factories through wireless networks. Private 5G should be a solution that can be easily adopted and operated. That's because enterprise customers have a variety of requirements. At the core of this critical area is the acquisition of Cradlepoint, a global leader in wireless solutions.
The second aspect of our enterprise business is what we call the global network platform. We will help to expose the capabilities 5G standalone network so that they can be used by the enterprise. It can promotes DX of businesses, create additional opportunities, or simply use for more efficient operation. At the core of this space is the acquisition of Vonage, a global leader in communications platforms. It offers standard APIs to large developer communities.
5G technology is expanding faster than any previous generations, with 1.5 billion users worldwide. By 2028, this figures is expected to reach 4.6 billion. 35% of the world population can already access to 5G and the traffic generated by 5G devices constitutes close to 80% in Korea. As the undisputed leader in this field, Ericsson provides equipment to 155 of the world's 260 5G networks in 66 countries. This includes 26 standalone networks (5G SA) out of 41 in the world. Ericsson addresses a variety of business, technology, and performance requirements and has been recognized by independent organizations as a leader in 5G networks, including most recently being named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant 2023.
Accelerate monetization and DX with network slicing and network APIs
For CSPs that have invested heavily in building 5G, monetization and acceleration of innovation are critical. Backed by high-performance 5G SA networks, the use of network slicing and network APIs is key to innovation. Successful use of this enables new services and applications and improves the user experience.
In 2022, there were many demonstrations and announcements of consumer services, and this year we are also seeing enterprise use cases for network slicing. There were also announcements of commercial services such as video conferencing. Ericsson also made announcements with three Spanish operators in Barcelona this year. We also cooperate with CAMARA's API standardization to provide a high-performance user experience for video conferencing, gaming, and more. The combination of URSP and slicing enables differentiation and, in turn, monetization, by enabling differentiation between consumers and enterprises with higher connectivity requirements. The real disruption will come when the 5G standalone network is established and network slicing and network APIs are available on top of it.
The Importance of a Global Network Platform
Even if CSPs invest heavily into building a 5G SA network, many developers and enterprises do not plan to take advantage of its capabilities. There is a huge gap between amazing features and potential users. Ericsson believes that the Global Network Platform (GNP) is the answer. The GNP, for the network, is the app-store seen by mobile phone. It provides the developer community with a standardized API for providing network functionality. This is expected to lead to the exposure of new network features and the development of various applications and services.
For example, it can expose not only standard features such as voice, SMS, and video, but also more advanced features within the 5G SA network. At the core of the GNP is the acquisition of Vonage, a platform with 1.4 million developers coding on the platform.
Last month, Deutsche Telekom announced that it had partnered with Ericsson to implement the Magenta Business API. It's a portal enabled by Vonage that provides business partners, companies, and developers with not only a communication API, but also a network API. The first commercially available API was a step toward innovations in Quality of Service (QoS), location and device status information in case of roaming.
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