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Ericsson MWC 2024 Barcelona Executive Q&A - Fredrik Jejdling

With Mobile World Congress 2024 underway on Barcelona, we asked Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, about the priorities and opportunities for his business area in the year ahead.

Fredrik Jejdling

Jejdling has held several senior management positions in both market areas and technology roles since joining Ericsson in 2006. He was appointed to his current role in November 2017, overseeing a business area of about 30,000 employees.

1. What are BA Networks’ biggest priorities for the year ahead?

We’ve established a leadership position based on technology for cost and performance, and customer trust. So, we will continue to build on those strengths and taking the next steps to realize the potential of 5G, paving the way for the networks of the future.

Standing at the threshold of the biggest shift in our industry, we are actively establishing our role in it, as part of the whole ecosystem, to realize our vision of transforming how we build networks for greater value - for our customers, for us at Ericsson, and for the entire industry.

We see the first signs of the industry moving away from the traditional setup with networks divided into geographical regions with vertically integrated stacks toward a horizontal architecture with vendor diversity across the layers of the architecture, including for radio units, and a single vendor on the software layer.

We have a diverse set of customers, and a fantastic portfolio that caters to both existing network practices as well as emerging ones.

We do this in close partnership with our lead customers using a proven, collaborative and experience-based approach. We can upgrade our customers' networks with superior products, industrialize deployment and operations, and unlock new revenue-generating capabilities through transformation. This also brings down the cost for our customers quite significantly.

In summary, we are not just building networks; we’re defining the future towards cloud and automation, enabling an open and growing ecosystem of innovation and APIs for network capabilities exposure. Our industry is rapidly evolving, and we have what it takes to stay ahead of the game.

2. There has been some commentary that 5G has not yet delivered on its investment value. What are you telling customers about the value of investing in 5G over the next year and related 5G monetization opportunities?

We are still at a very early stage in the 5G cycle, where 5G non-Standalone (NSA) was to serve as a transition phase. Communications service providers (CSPs) need to continuously evolve their 5G networks to realize the full potential of 5G. In order to achieve the differentiated connectivity and network programmability to introduce performance-based business models, CSPs need 5G Standalone, network slicing, service differentiation (Time-Critical Communication), and new 5G Advanced performance and automation.

We need to address the challenge of value creation in our industry. Data growth is not slowing down, and customers need to continue investing in networks to keep up with demand without increasing energy consumption.

While we see 5G subscriptions growing fast globally, new 5G revenue growth is still limited, and the reality is that to date, only 28 percent of 4G sites have been upgraded to 5G mid-band – and mid-band is crucial to scaling up 5G connectivity.

Likewise, only 1.6 billion 5G subscribers, so far, out of a total of 8.5b mobile subscriptions enjoy the benefits of 5G. And, so far, only 17 percent of service providers with live 5G networks have launched 5G SA, and evolution to 5G Advanced will just start in 2024.

We need to secure value creation is kept in our industry. There’s a fragmented industry structure; northbound monetization is disappearing, leading to customers not being able to make a return on invested capital that is positive.

To deal with these challenges, we’re evolving our strategy. As I mentioned earlier, we are transforming how we build networks with new horizontal industry logic for greater value.

We have to build the best performing programmable networks, and achieve this with a stepwise shift to cloud-native RAN, and a competitive hardware portfolio complemented by partnering.

3. The strategic partnership with AT&T in December 2023 was a significant milestone for Ericsson Open RAN. What can we expect in the coming year from Ericsson in terms of Open RAN strategy, momentum and business announcements?

In the case of AT&T, we will play a key role in deploying Open RAN across the USA and we view this historic contract as a vote of confidence in our technology leadership and ability to deliver.

It demonstrates how our focus on open networks will only grow in the future. They chose Ericsson because we have the best innovation and execution in the RAN equipment vendor space.

We support all our customers regardless of what route they take, and accomplishing this requires a truly expert and proven partner - that’s Ericsson.

We continue to take the next step in leading the industry, with open programmable cloud-native networks to support our customers in capitalizing on 5G investments with the lowest total cost of ownership – this will change the way we think about networks.

Future networks need to be increasingly resilient, open, sustainable and intelligent. We are industrializing Open RAN, bringing the benefits of cloud-based open network architecture to the industry with scale, including support for open fronthaul in our Cloud RAN and radio portfolios.

We are building the best performing programmable networks, with a stepwise shift to cloud-native RAN based on a competitive hardware portfolio. The latest additions to our portfolio on show at MWC consist of 12 new radio, software, transport, and antenna solutions bringing more performance, more sustainability, more openness, and more automation.

4. What can we expect from the Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) aspect of Networks’ business in the year ahead – both in terms of your priorities and customer opportunities?

To ensure profitable long-term revenue growth, CSPs must capture the value of 5G SA and differentiated connectivity offerings. Global mobile service revenue grew 4.6 percent annually over the last three years, driven by 5G mobile broadband and the rise of FWA. OPEX also increased, driven by inflation.

Mobile broadband (MBB) remains the main revenue generator. FWA is a growing success with around 60 percent Ericsson 5G live networks offering it, and a revenue potential of USD 67 billion by 2028 (according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report).

5. What does BA Networks hope to achieve at MWC 2024?

We’re looking forward to meeting many of our customers and to understand more on how we can support them to build cost efficient and revenue generating programmable networks, and of course our team of Ericsson experts will be full of energy and excitement to share that journey.

For me personally, well, I land in Barcelona over the weekend and then by this Thursday you’re done. The focus is 24-7 and it’s about listening to our customers, connecting with them and having good conversations around creating the next step for 5G together, accelerating innovation and growth in our industry.

Feel welcome to join the #ericssonmwc conversation at #mwc24