Ericsson released a software update to its cellular base station hardware that the vendor says will markedly improve 5G network performance by increasing its capacity and coverage, especially indoors and in hard-to-reach areas. The upgrade will support a 3GPP Release 15 specification of Standalone 5G New Radio (NR) which, unlike NSA (Non Stand Alone), does not need 4G LTE infrastructure such as signalling, mobile packet core and network management.
Ericsson says its 5G standalone NR software makes for a new network architecture, delivering key benefits such as ultra-low latency and even better coverage (says the company).
Ericsson also announced what it calls inter-band NR carrier aggregation, which is software that extends the coverage and capacity of NR on mid bands and high bands when combined with NR on low bands. Ericsson claims the software can help improve speeds in areas with poor coverage and in indoor environments.
Ericsson says it is evolving its cloud solution with an offering optimized for edge computing to meet user demand. This will enable service providers to offer new consumer and enterprise 5G services such as augmented reality and content distribution at low cost, low latency, and high accuracy.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “We continue to focus our efforts on helping our customers succeed with 5G. These new solutions will allow them to follow the 5G evolution path that fits their ambitions in the simplest and most efficient way.”
The new standalone 5G NR software can be installed on existing Ericsson Radio System hardware. Coupled with Ericsson’s 5G dual-mode Cloud Core solutions, the new products are aimed at opening new business opportunities for service providers – especially having established an architecture that facilitates agility, provides advanced support for network slicing and enables the speedy creation of new services.
Most pre-standard “5G” network operators have deployed NSA (Non Stand Alone) using LTE infrastructure. Once the 5G coverage has been established, they can now also deploy standalone.
Low bands will play a key role in cost-efficiently extending the coverage provided by 5G deployments to date. Ericsson has also launched Inter-band NR Carrier Aggregation – a new software feature that extends the coverage and capacity of NR on mid- and high bands when combined with NR on low bands. This will improve speeds indoors and in areas with poor coverage.
Two new Massive MIMO radios have also been added to the Ericsson Radio System mid-band portfolio, allowing service providers to build 5G with precision: AIR 1636 for wider coverage which provides optimized performance on longer inter-site distances; and AIR 1623 for easy site build with minimal total cost of ownership.
Ericsson’s 5G hardware is now being used in networks all over the world. Image courtesy of Ericsson
5G (with low latency as per 3GPP Release 16 and later- IMT 2020) will enable augmented reality, content distribution and gaming, and other applications that require low latency and high bandwidth to perform with accuracy. To help service providers meet these requirements and offer new consumer and enterprise services, Ericsson is evolving its cloud solution with the launch of Ericsson Edge NFVI (Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure), optimized for the network edge.
A compact and highly efficient solution, Ericsson Edge NFVI is part of the end-to-end managed and orchestrated distributed cloud architecture, which makes it possible to distribute workloads, optimize the network and enable new services in the cloud.
Ericsson is also launching the Ericsson partner VNF Certification Service, a partner certification program for virtual network functions (VNF). The service is open to all VNF vendors and grants a certification on the Ericsson NFVI platform using Ericsson Labs. This will create an ecosystem with a shorter time-to-market for working with partners and applications.
Industry Analyst Hugh Ujhazy, Vice President, IOT & Telecommunications at International Data Corporation (IDC), Asia Pacific, says: “Ericsson’s latest 5G offerings equip service providers with an even broader 5G portfolio by adding the Standalone NR option. The series of solutions being added to the Ericsson 5G platform will allow service providers to deploy 5G sensibly and address new business opportunities with full flexibility. What you get is faster, cheaper, makes better use of existing assets and with fewer truck rolls. That’s pretty cool.”
Dana Cooperson, Research Director, Analysis Mason, says: “Improved E2E 4G/5G network architecture flexibility and new 5G use cases require distribution to the edge. To be successful in providing new services it is essential to have a cost-efficient platform for distributed workloads. Ericsson’s initiative with the Edge NFVI solution and distributed cloud architecture will contribute to service providers’ success in 5G.”