January – 5G milestones move towards commercial introduction
The early days of 2019 saw communications service providers across the world continue to ramp up their 5G engagement.
T-Mobile, Ericsson and Intel kicked-off the year by successfully completing the first 5G call on 600MHz, generating a 5G signal capable of covering more than a thousand square miles from a single tower. The tests also included a successful tri-band 5G video call with three users on different spectrum bands – 600MHz, 28GHz and 39GHz. Ericsson and Qualcomm added another frequency band to the list of those successfully tested for commercial deployment, achieving a non-standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) data call on 2.6GHz.
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson achieved fiber-like results with wireless backhaul using Ericsson’s latest mobile transport technology. Together, we were able to demonstrate a millimeter wave link with four times greater throughput compared to then current market solutions in a live trial..
January also saw the opening of Singapore’s first live 5G facility – the 5G Garage. As a collaboration between Ericsson, Singtel and Singapore Polytechnic (SP), the garage drives the development of a 5G ecosystem in the country and 5G solutions for enterprises, using Singtel’s 3.5GHz trial 5G network at Ayer Rajah.
February – the Middle East showcases its 5G ambitions
As the industry geared up for the biggest event of the year – Mobile World Congress 2019 – communications service providers from the Middle East showed the world just how serious they were about bringing 5G to the region at scale and speed.
Ooredoo Qatar selected Ericsson to make its ‘Supernet’ fully 5G-enabled and enhance the digital lives of people, enterprises and industries across Qatar. The deal included solutions from our Ericsson Radio System portfolio, 5G New Radio solutions, and 10Gbps microwave solutions.
In Saudi Arabia, STC announced the launch of its 5G network using Ericsson commercial hardware and solutions including radio access network (RAN), packet core, transport, and Ericsson Network Manager.
Etisalet also selected Ericsson to deploy a 5G radio network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help position the UAE at the forefront of 5G network deployment globally.
Ahead of MWC 2019, we evolved our 5G Platform with portfolio additions across core, radio access and transport areas, as well as service orchestration, to make the platform more dynamic and flexible, enabling service providers to smoothly evolve their networks and deploy 5G at scale. Ericsson also launched a critical communications broadband networks offering to allow service providers to meet the business-critical and mission-critical needs of industries and public safety agencies.
Ericsson President and CEO, Börje Ekholm, kicked off MWC 2019 by stating that, “We are truly switching on 5G around the world in 2019”. Ekholm showcased this drive by sharing the news that Ericsson had announced commercial 5G deals with 10 named service provider customers, as well as 42 memorandums of understanding. Just days later, those figures grew with a momentum that would continue throughout the year.
March – Enabling Industry 4.0 and accelerating 5G momentum
In March, Ericsson Industry Connect was launched to accelerate Industry 4.0 digital transformation and enable the smart factories of the future. The solution allows communications service providers to offer dedicated cellular networks at factories and warehouses starting with 4G/LTE, with a clear path to 5G. Ericsson also teamed up with Telia and Volvo CE to operate Sweden’s first 5G network for industrial use, placing Volvo CE among the early global pioneers to test remote-controlled machines and autonomous solutions with the technology.
Danish service provider TDC, selected Ericsson to roll out nationwide commercial 5G as part of a major network overhaul, and provide managed services through the Ericsson Operations Engine. Ericsson was also selected for commercial 5G by KT in Korea, and Batelco in Bahrain. When Ekholm addressed Ericsson’s Annual General Meeting in March our 5G engagement stats had increased to 16 announced commercial 5G deals with named communication service provider customers.
April – A big day for 5G frontrunners and the industry 5G wave grows
Wednesday April 3, 2019 was a big day for commercial 5G as US service provider Verizon switched on its commercial 5G network in two cities, while South Korea’s three service providers switched on their commercial 5G networks. Ericsson is a Verizon 5G network partner, and (at the tie) a 5G network partner to two of the three South Korean service providers: SK Telecom and KT. An Ericsson 5G deal with the third South Korean provider, LG U+, would follow later in the year.
Shortly afterwards Swisscom, the largest telecommunications service provider in Switzerland, switched on the first large-scale commercial 5G network in Europe, supporting commercially available smartphones.
April also saw the 5G-powered industrial revolution gain serious momentum, with Ericsson and industry partner ABB fast-tracking the introduction of a new generation of smart factories, starting with automated 5G manufacturing at Ericsson facilities in Estonia. The partners also strengthened their relationship with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Hannover Messe 2019, enhancing a joint vision for future flexible production with advanced automation and wireless communication. At the same event, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven got a first-hand overview of the potential of 5G to transform European industry.
In the US, we announced the opening of Ericsson D-Fifteen, a new co-creation center at our Silicon Valley facility to ramp up collaborative innovation and enable partners and US companies to benefit early and fully in the next 5G-powered industrial revolution.
May – 5G continues to spread globally, the US rolls on, and pressure felt in Europe
Icelandic service provider Síminn (Iceland Telecom) joined forces with Ericsson to ramp up the move towards 5G through a core network and radio access modernization partnership.
On the other side of the globe, Australia’s first 5G service went live on May 22 with Telstra announcing the launch of its first 5G device and roll out of 5G in 10 cities. SoftBank Corp. also selected Ericsson as a primary 5G vendor for the deployment of a multi-band 5G network in Japan following a series of successful joint proof-of-concept activities that began in 2015. And in the US, 5G kept its momentum going as Sprint became the third major US service provider to launch 5G in tight collaboration with Ericsson.
But while the rest of the world pushed forward, Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm was calling on European governments and regulators to act fast to remove barriers hindering speedy 5G roll outs in a keynote address at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris. Ekholm warned that Europe needs urgent and decisive action if it is to benefit from the competitive and innovative capabilities of 5G, or it will lose out to the US, China, and other regions.
June – Next-gen uptake faster than expected, more remote rollouts, and revolutionizing the car manufacturing sector
The June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report highlighted that 5G uptake was going even faster than expected. Rapid early momentum and enthusiasm for 5G led us to forecast an extra 400 million enhanced mobile broadband subscriptions globally by the end of 2024. We forecast 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions – up from 1.5 billion forecasted in the November 2018 edition – an increase of almost 27 percent.
GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, selected Ericsson to build the United States’ northernmost 5G network in Anchorage, Alaska. The network is scheduled to launch in 2020 and marked Ericsson’s 22nd publicly announced 5G contract. Our European 5G footprint also spread, with Spain joining the 5G party as Vodafone launched commercial services in the cities of La Coruña and Vigo, in the Galicia region, and Gijón, in the Asturias region.
Automotive 5G manufacturing production became a reality for German electric microcar company e.GO Mobile AG at its Aachen complex, enabled by 5G connectivity from Ericsson and Vodafone Germany. Ericsson also teamed up with Telefónica Germany for 5G car production via a private 5G network for Mercedes-Benz at the company’s Sindelfingen plant in southern Germany.