According to a new report from analyst firm Mobile Experts, Ericsson leapt into the #1 position in the RAN market for 2021. Ericsson (see Table 1. at bottom of this article), which achieved a 26.9% share of a market that grew by about 3% in value to be worth in the region of $45 billion last year.
Sanctions hit Huawei very hard as the Chinese tech giant dropped to third place in the RAN market in terms of the value of sales with a 20.4% market share. Huawei had a shortfall of roughly $4B last year due to the company’s inability to produce high-capacity TDD base stations. That was because of U.S. Government sanctions on the critical components needed. As a result, Huawei achieved much lower dollar value than their western competitors.
Nokia (21.9% market share) placed third while ZTE achieved fourth place (14.5%) ahead of Samsung (8% market share).
“Our approach to forecasting is deeply analytical, using data from more than 100 sources, rather than simply the inputs of five OEMs. Our approach works. This analyst team has been creating some of the most accurate, detailed forecasting on the market for over a decade,” commented Chief Analyst of Mobile Experts, Joe Madden. “We have developed relationships with suppliers, operators, and vendors that give us data for a three-pronged approach to triangulation on mobile infrastructure revenue.”
Mobile Experts’ models show the RAN market growing at a CAGR (Cumulative Annualized Growth Rate) of 3%, with -1% growth in macro base stations and 25%-35% growth in millimeter wave and software segments. The analyst firm, known for their unmatched accuracy, leverage over a decade of ear-to-ground experience in this market to present this detailed market forecast that presents last year’s findings concisely and completely as well as presenting what’s next for the RAN market and its players.
“Overall, the RAN market is looking up. After 30 years of boom-and-bust cycles, the market is currently reaching a peak with 5G deployment in its active mode this year. In coming years, we see new revenue coming in from private enterprises to offset the natural drop in CSP sales; specifically, the private LTE/5G market will grow by 19%, accounting for more than $4 billion in 2026. As a result, the total RAN market will remain near its 5G peak for a few years, with the possibility for growth in the longer term,” commented Chief Analyst Joe Madden.
Total Year Review for 2021 – Global RAN Revenue:
This pre-earnings report offers a comprehensive overview of the RAN market with Mobile Experts’ signature accuracy and detailed breakdowns. This quarter’s report includes revenue estimates for the top 25 vendors in the RAN market for 2021. This is the first of a series of quarterly updates, and it is available today for instant download with purchase at www.mobile-experts.net.
For more about this research and buy the report, click here.
About Mobile Experts Inc.:
Mobile Experts provides insightful market analysis for the mobile infrastructure and mobile handset markets. Our analysts are true Experts, who remain focused on topics where each analyst has 25 years of experience or more. Research topics center on technology introduction for radio frequency (RF) and communications innovation. Recent publications include: RAN Revenue, Cellular V2X, Fixed Mobile Convergence, Edge Computing, In-Building Wireless, CIoT, URLLC, Macro Base Station Transceivers, Small Cells, VRAN, and Private LTE.
Table 1: Ericsson’s headline figures (Swedish Krona-SEK billions)
|Research and development expenses||-42.1||-39.7||–|
|Selling and administrative expenses||-27.0||-26.7||–|
|Impairment losses on trade receivables||0.0||0.1||-134%|
|Other operating income and expenses||0.4||0.7||-45%|
|Share in earnings of JV and associated companies||-0.3||-0.3||–|
|– of which networks||37.3||30.9||21%|
|– of which digital services||-3.6||-2.2||–|
|– of which managed services||1.5||1.6||-6%|
|– of which emerging business and other||-3.4||-2.4||–|
|Financial income and expenses, net||-2.5||-0.6||–|
Ericsson’s Mobility Report forecasts FWA (fixed wireless access) connections will “show strong growth of 17% annually through 2027.” That compares to anticipated wireline broadband growth over the same period of only 4%. The Ericsson report states that 57 network operators have deployed FWA commercial networks. Finnish telco DNA says FWA is its most popular broadband offering.
Ericsson says Latin America and North America are markets where FWA will play a role in closing the digital divide. Africa may also be promising because of its large rural population and the limited alternatives.
GSMA Intelligence is also enthusiastic about FWA. In a recent blog post it described FWA “as one of the most promising 5G use cases,” providing “an incremental opportunity to maximize the value of existing network assets.”
So is Dell’Oro Group’s Jeff Heynen. He wrote in an IEEE Techblog post, “We estimate that the total number of 5G FWA devices shipping to operators this year will easily exceed 3 million units and could push 4 million units. The vast majority of these units will be to support sub-6Ghz service offerings, though we also expect to see millimeter wave units, as some operators use a combination of those technologies to provide both extensive coverage and fiber-like speeds in areas where the competition from fixed broadband providers is more intense. Overall, however, we expect volumes first from sub-6GHz units this year and into next year, followed by increasing volumes of millimeter wave units beginning in the latter part of 2022 and into 2023.”
Not to be outdone, an Accenture analysis commissioned by the CTIA argues that 5G FWA can serve as many as 43% of rural households.
Currently fixed wireless, using either 4G or some other technology, accounts for fewer than 100 million worldwide subscribers.
The challenge for 5G, as for earlier generations, is that wireless doesn’t always deliver the best performance or the strongest business case.
But two years is a long time, especially when that period includes COVID-19, and we now find that Globe has shifted away from FWA to actual fiber.
Globe’s total fixed wireless subs fell 17% sequentially in Q3 while FTTH subs grew 35%, the company said in a filing. Total home broadband revenues grew 39% thanks to “the accelerated digital habits of the Filipinos brought about by the pandemic.”
China, the global 5G champion with 450 million users, is also indifferent to the possibilities of fixed wireless. You would think this nation with a rural population of some 530 million and vast sparsely settled regions would be a prime market for FWA, but its home broadband priority is gigabit fiber.
Geography is likely the main reason for limited 5G FWA take-up worldwide. 5G is strong in countries already well-served by fiber. Those markets where operators are likely to grow FWA are still in their early stages.
We believe that 5G FWA has great potential. That is because no standard 5G core network is required and there is no roaming between carriers. As such, non standard/operator specific private 5G SA core networks can be deployed that can deliver a range of 5G core enabled services, e.g. network slicing, automation, security, MEC, enhanced network management.
However, URLLC in the RAN and in the core network must be standardized, performance tested, and implemented in trials. Then deployed in production networks before the various 5G FWA industrial use cases can be effectively deployed.
In its new Mobility Report, Ericsson has updated its forecast for 5G subscribers at the end of 2021, to a total of close to 660 million. The increase is due to stronger-than-expected demand in China and North America (?), driven in part by falling prices for 5G devices. Ericsson forecasts 5G to become the dominant mobile technology by 2027.
Opinion: For that to happen, this author believes many of the unfinished parts of 5G must be completely standardized and proven in the field. That list includes: URLLC in the RAN, URLLC in the core network, 5G SA core network, 5G security, reduction of very high 5G power consumption, deployment of hundreds of thousands of small cells, frequency arrangements for terrestrial (ITU-R M.1036 revision), industrial and consumer use cases, fiber optics and LEO satellite backhaul, etc.
In Q3 2021, nearly twice as many 5G subscriptions were added around the world as new 4G connections, at respectively 98 million and 48 million. Ericsson expects that 5G networks will cover more than 2 billion people by the end of this year.
Ericsson’s latest forecasts put 5G on track to become the dominant mobile access technology by 2027. 5G is expected to account for around 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2027, covering 75 percent of the world’s population and carrying 62 percent of the global smartphone traffic by the same date.
Not to be forgotten, Ericsson says fixed wireless access (FWA) will provide broadband access for 800 million people by 2027.
Ericsson’s latest report also looks back on the past ten years of mobile networks. According to the research, around 5.5 billion smartphone users have joined the market in the past ten years, and mobile data traffic has increased almost 300-fold in the same period.
In Q3 2021 alone, there was more mobile data traffic than the entire period up until the end of 2016.
Note that Ericsson has tended to over-estimate total mobile subscriptions but under-estimate the uptake of newer technologies, especially in their early stages. This is shown in the table below:
Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Networks at Ericsson, wrote:
“Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years. When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever to how we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”
Ericsson has agreed to buy VoIP network operator Vonage for $21 per share, for a total of $6.2 billion. The board of directors at Vonage approved the deal, which will enable Ericsson to expand its enterprise operations globally and build on its integration of Cradlepoint in September 2020.
Vonage reported revenues for the 12 months to end September of $1.4 billion, with an adjusted EBITDA margin of 14% and free cash flow of $109 million. The merger price represents a premium of 28% to Vonage’s closing share price on 19 November and 34% to the volume-weighted average share price for the three months to 19 November.
Vonage’s presence in the Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) segment will provide Ericsson with access to a complementary and high-growth segment, the company said. The combination will also accelerate enterprise digitization and the development of advanced APIs made possible by 5G. Over the longer term, Ericsson intends to deliver services to the full ecosystem, including telecom operators, developers, and businesses, by creating a global platform for open network innovation, built on Ericsson and Vonage’s complementary solutions.
The cloud-based Vonage Communications Platform (VCP) serves over 120,000 customers and more than one million registered developers globally. The API (Application Programming Interface) platform within VCP allows developers to embed high quality communications – including messaging, voice and video – into applications and products, without back-end infrastructure or interfaces. Vonage also provides Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions as part of the Vonage Communications Platform.
VCP accounts for approximately 80% of Vonage’s current revenues and delivered revenue growth in excess of 20% in the three-year period to 2020, with adjusted EBITDA margins moving from -19% in 2018 to break-even in the 12-month period to 30 September 2021. Vonage’s management team projects annual growth of over 20% for VCP in the coming years.
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, says: “The core of our strategy is to build leading mobile networks through technology leadership. This provides the foundation to build an enterprise business. The acquisition of Vonage is the next step in delivering on that strategic priority. Vonage gives us a platform to help our customers monetize the investments in the network, benefitting developers and businesses. Imagine putting the power and capabilities of 5G, the biggest global innovation platform, at the fingertips of developers. Then back it with Vonage’s advanced capabilities, in a world of 8 billion connected devices. Today we are making that possible.”
“Today Network APIs are an established market for messaging, voice and video, but with a significant potential to capitalize on new 4G and 5G capabilities. Vonage’s strong developer ecosystem will get access to 4G and 5G network APIs, exposed in a simple and globally unified way. This will allow them to develop new innovative global offerings. Communication Service Providers will be able to better monetize their investments in network infrastructure by creating new API driven revenues. Finally, businesses will benefit from the 5G performance, impacting operational performance, and share in new value coming from applications on top of the network.”
Rory Read, CEO of Vonage, says: “Ericsson and Vonage have a shared ambition to accelerate our long-term growth strategy. The convergence of the internet, mobility, the cloud and powerful 5G networks are forming the digital transformation and intelligent communications wave, which is driving a secular change in the way businesses operate. The combination of our two companies offers exciting opportunities for customers, partners, developers and team members to capture this next wave.”
“We believe joining Ericsson is in the best interests of our shareholders and is a testament to Vonage’s leadership position in business cloud communications, our innovative product portfolio, and outstanding team.”
On October 5th Bharti Airtel said it has conducted India’s first rural 5G trial with Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson. The demonstration took place in Bhaipur Bramanan village on the outskirts of Delhi/NCR using 5G trial spectrum allocated by India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
“The trial showcases the massive potential offered by 5G towards bridging the digital divide by enabling access to high speed broadband through solutions such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The trial demonstrated over 200Mbps throughput on 3GPP-compliant 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) device located more than 10km from the site.
The trial also showcased that a commercially available 3GPP-based 5G smartphone could connect to the test network and record over 100Mbps speeds at a distance of more than 10km from the site.
The 5G site was powered by Ericsson’s 3GPP-compliant 5G radio. The trial was carried out by utilizing the allocated mid-band trial spectrum in 3500MHz band and existing FDD spectrum band.
“Having demonstrated India’s first 5G network and also the first 5G cloud gaming experience, Airtel is proud to have also conducted the nation’s first 5G trial in a rural geography. 5G will be a transformational technology when it comes to delivering broadband coverage to the last mile through use cases like FWA and contribute to a more inclusive digital economy,” said Randeep Singh Sekhon, Airtel CTO.
“The technology milestone of extended coverage achieved by Ericsson and Airtel as part of the ongoing 5G trial in India is even more significant since it demonstrates how 5G can ‘connect the unconnected’ in India, enable faster 5G rollout and truly help India realize its ‘Digital India’ vision,” added Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South east Asia, Oceania and India.
According to an Ericsson study, on average, a 10% increase in the Mobile Broadband adoption ratio causes a 0.8% increase in GDP.
Airtel has previously demonstrated cloud gaming in a 5G environment, as part of its 5G trials in Gurgaon’s Manesar. It had used the mid-band spectrum provided by the DoT for this purpose. The Sunil Mittal-led telco has also been rallying to ensure that any new 5G handset sold in India must support all existing bands in India for 5G, including the mmWave bands.
Earlier this year, Airtel successfully demonstrated 5G services over a live 4G-LTE network in Hyderabad, marking an industry first. It is also conducting 5G trials in multiple cities across India and validating technologies and use cases through the trial spectrum allotted by the DoT . Airtel has partnered with Ericsson and Nokia for these trials.
Q and A with Nunzio Mirtillo, head of Ericsson (Southeast Asia, Oceania and India):
How has been the market performing for Ericsson this year?
We have been doing well in India and increasing our market share constantly. Over the past three/four years, we have been increasing our market share in India and we have kept our market share when the merger with Vodafone and Idea happened. When it comes to Bharti, we have increased market share substantially in the last few years, both on core and on radio, showing two things – one, our willingness to stay and increase our presence in India, and two, that we are competitive. Because you can be willing to do something but then you also need to be competitive in terms of technology, in terms of TCO and we have been showing that. And on top of that we have been delivering quite a good quality of service to our customers because that is ultimately what counts the most.
Have your telco partners been spending on network expansion aggressively?
We know the situation of Vodafone Idea, and I believe they have a great chance to do well in India and I think they will. And now with the latest from the government, I hope they will have a nice restart. When it comes to Jio we are not a relevant partner with Jio when it comes to the radio business, although we work with Jio. I think they have been also doing their job and their investment in a nice way. But Bharti has accelerated quite a lot in the last few years, and you can see the result in their market evaluation and also in terms of subscriber acquisition, ARPU increase, and we have been part of that journey, partnering with them as well. Showing that India is a market where if you do invest, you provide network quality and you have the right strategy and the right focus, the market is there. And if you do well, you will get the payback for that.
How do you see this whole 5G story panning out in the Indian market?
The sooner the better for the country actually. As everyone says in Q1, the spectrum will be made available from the government to the operators. So, I really hope so. India has been a bit sleepy for a while but then in the last three, four years it really did catch up quite a lot on 4G. So now the country should not lose momentum.
Secondly, the government should make available at least between 80 to 100 megahertz of 3.5GHz or the mid-band to the existing operators and also make sure that they auction millimeter wave spectrum which is a 400 megahertz which will be very much needed going forward to match the tremendous demand of mobile broadband that will be there in the future. And also, you also need to take care of the transport network, so we also need enough spectrum on the E band for connecting the 5G networks.
That’s what we believe and that’s the basic and India cannot, in my view, go below basic because there’s the Digital Highway for the country, it’s not only kind of business as such. It’s really a vital infrastructure for the future of India. And they also need to make sure that they deliver that spectrum at a reasonable price because otherwise they will impact from the start the ones that are supposed to invest.
I think they will be reasonable, because I have seen a lot of good things in India in the last few years with the tremendous push shown on Digital India, Make in India, and it’s all good programs.
Ericsson has launched IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect to make it easier for enterprises using Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator platform to cellular devices to connect to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) server securely. According to Ericsson, Cloud Connect shifts the complex encryption required for secure IoT connectivity away from the device and onto the edge of the cellular network.
With an estimated five billion cellular IoT devices to be in use by the end of 2026, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report (June 2021), enterprises are increasingly outsourcing IoT device authentication and data management to public cloud providers such as AWS.
Enterprises on Ericsson IoT Accelerator-managing cellular devices such as sensors, meters, or tracking devices now have a much simpler way to connect to the already secure AWS server through Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect, which moves complex encryption from the device to the edge of the cellular network.
Quotes from companies across multiple industry sectors:
Steve Dunn, CEO and Co-Founder at Digital Keys, a smart IoT security company, says: “Our cellular connected smartlocks with digital keys application are used for banks, hotels, universities, office buildings, shared labs, and apartments. Every smartlock has a SIM card that needs to connect to the cellular networks and the AWS cloud securely. It was a smooth process with Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect.”
Communication service providers (CSPs) play a crucial role in the IoT ecosystem, providing global cellular connectivity using Ericsson IoT Accelerator. With more than 35 global CSPs already on Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator, enterprises of any size can manage the connectivity of their devices worldwide. It is now even easier to connect to AWS IoT Core.
Cristoff Martin, Chief Marketing Officer, Telenor Connexion, says: “This capability, integrated with our IoT Cloud service also developed together with AWS, will allow even more efficient development and operation of new connected solutions taking benefit of network technologies like Narrowband-IoT and the superior security capabilities of mobile networks in general.”
Jan Willem Smeenk, Chief Architect at SODAQ, a leading company in solar-powered asset tracking that specializes in scalable and efficient IoT hardware and software to empower businesses, says: “It is costly and complicated to connect our smart asset trackers securely, but with Ericsson as a key partner, we were able to order SIM cards from the operator on IoT Accelerator, insert them into our device with no additional encryption or certificate management required. Then, using Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect, the device is authorized and automatically provisioned to the target AWS destination. It was simple and can serve our customers of any scale and size.”
Connecting to AWS IoT Core requires each connected device to use Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption for all communications. With Cloud Connect, the IoT Accelerator service offers a plug-and-play alternative. In this, enterprises benefit from simple activation of devices that tunnel to the edge of the cellular infrastructure before automatically self-provisioning to AWS and securely connecting via Cloud Connect generated encryption and keys.
Rauno Jokelainen, Chief Technology Officer at UROS Group, a leading company in digital water services, says: “We see high value with the use of Cloud Connect in the UROS Sense Liquid Quality as a Service solution to provide real-time water quality detection to the municipalities and enterprises around the world in an easily deployable manner. With this solution, we can bring the peace of mind to the CIOs of the municipalities that their water networks are monitored in a secure manner.”
With Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect, devices with unencrypted yet privately secured communications over cellular network leveraging Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) or narrowband User Data Protocols (UDP) – such as Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) – can connect seamlessly to AWS IoT Core, resulting in significantly lower power and data consumption.
Initial results show that Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect enables low-powered devices to reduce mobile data by up to 95 percent and extend battery life by up to 50 percent by removing the need to run public end-to-end internet encryption.
Michael MacKenzie, General Manager, AWS IoT Connectivity & Control, says: “As enterprises connect more IoT devices to the public cloud, they want an easy and secure way to ingest IoT device data to AWS. Simple solutions like Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect give enterprises flexibility by leveraging AWS IoT to easily manage and authorize devices, use zero touch provisioning, and ensure data is encrypted and secure.”
Kyle Okamoto, General Manager IoT, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator Cloud Connect removes barriers for enterprises to connect their IoT devices to numerous public clouds and to optimize the IoT data management infrastructure offered by providers like AWS. This means a faster time to market for enterprise devices and products. We are excited to offer this service to our IoT Accelerator community of over 7,000 enterprises globally.”
Separately, Ericsson is cutting hundreds of jobs in China after losing market share during the recent awards of 5G contracts, according to Light Reading.
“Layoffs will happen by the end of this year as Ericsson merges three separate customer units in China into one. Until now, it has maintained a unit for each of China’s big mobile operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – but the restructuring will create a single mainland China customer unit catering to them all.”
Ericsson’s recent loss of market share has left it with a lower volume of 5G business to serve. Its move is aimed at rebalancing sales and costs so that it remains competitive on price.
Employees in China were briefed on the plans at an internal company meeting earlier today, where Chris Houghton, Ericsson’s head of market area for northeast Asia, said: “I sincerely regret that we now need to make changes to our great team, in order to reflect Ericsson’s changing market share position in China. We are committed to China and delivering value to our customers with our leading technology and solutions.”
The restructuring comes weeks after China Mobile gave Ericsson just 2% of the 700MHz bid on top of its existing share in 2.6GHz. This phase-two allocation in 5G is down from about 11% last year.
Ericsson has also picked up only a 3% share of the phase-two 5G work for China Telecom and China Unicom, which have joined forces to build a 5G network.
The Ericsson product range will deliver high-quality connectivity for outdoor coverage in densely populated areas and help drive strong indoor-mall coverage across the city-state. The Covid-19 pandemic has fueled the need for better connectivity indoors, due to the numerous travel and lock-down restrictions.
According to the May 2021 ConsumerLab report – Five Ways to a Better 5G – indoor 5G coverage at public places has become two times more important than mobile data speed in delivering satisfactory 5G experiences for consumers in Singapore.
In addition, Ericsson’s solutions for 5G SA will provide super-fast response times and faster access to higher data rates that are required by cloud gaming, immersive media and vehicles or robot control. This connectivity will also help drive the future-readiness of Singtel’s network, creating new business opportunities.
Mark Chong, Group Chief Technology Officer, Singtel, says: “We are pleased to partner Ericsson in our 5G journey. Together, we launched Singapore’s first 5G standalone network and achieved the fastest 5G speeds this year. 5G is a game changer that will drive greater innovation, and in turn strengthen Singapore’s position as a leading digital hub. We look forward to bringing to life the full benefits 5G has to offer to enterprises and consumers in collaboration with ecosystem partners.”
To nurture a growing and vibrant local 5G ecosystem, Ericsson and Singtel have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with several global industry partners to develop advanced 5G enterprise solutions in Singapore. The MoU will utilize test facilities and capabilities to innovate solutions and scale them for global deployment. The partners are ABB, Axis Communications, Bosch, Bosch Rexroth, Cradlepoint, DHL, Hexagon, PTC and Rohde & Schwarz.
Martin Wiktorin, Head of Ericsson Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, says: “5G SA will allow consumers in Singapore to experience the full benefits of 5G connectivity and also enable businesses across industries to reap the benefits of enhanced mobility, flexibility, reliability and security. As Singtel’s long-standing partner, we are proud to support the roll-out of one of the first 5G SA networks in the world. As a global ICT leader, we have already accumulated a wealth of technology expertise through the deployment close to 100 live 5G networks worldwide.”
For the past 30 years, Ericsson and Singtel have achieved multiple milestones together in Singapore. This partnership includes leading the way in 5G in the city-state – achieving Singapore’s fastest 5G speeds, the launch of Singtel’s GENIE, the world’s first portable 5G-in-a-box platform powered by Ericsson to enable enterprises to experience 5G’s capabilities; and the establishment of 5G Garage, the country’s first live 5G facility to drive 5G solutions for enterprises in collaboration with Singtel and Singapore Polytechnic.
Separately, Ericsson has released the latest addition to its Massive MIMO portfolio – the ultra-lightweight antenna-integrated radio AIR 3268 – for easier and efficient 5G mid-band deployments in dense urban and suburban areas.
At 12 kg (26lb) and 23 liters, AIR 3268 is the lightest and smallest Massive MIMO radio in the industry. With 200W output power, 32 transceivers and passive cooling, the radio weighs about 40 percent less than the earlier generation, making installations easy not only on towers and rooftops, but also on poles and walls.
The radio will help to accelerate 5G mid-band deployment for communications service providers seeking to boost capacity, coverage, speeds and mobile experiences for their subscribers.
Ericsson’s latest radio is 10 percent more energy-efficient than the earlier generation, lowering the total added power consumption when introducing 5G on mid-band. It also supports Ericsson’s unique Massive MIMO architecture and Uplink Booster capabilities that deliver leading network performance.
The AIR 3268 is about 8 kilograms lighter than its predecessor and could threaten the recent efforts by Nokia, Ericsson’s Finnish rival, to seize the leadership position in 5G radios. In June, after a 5G refresh, Nokia began advertising a 5G “massive MIMO” radio unit that included 32 transmitters and 32 receivers (the so-called 32T32R configuration) and weighed 17 kilograms. However, Ericsson’s 12-kilogram base station falls into exact the same 32T32R category, and a 5-kilogram difference is potentially very significant.
Heavy base station equipment puts stress on masts, brackets and other supporting infrastructure. Massive MIMO units usually need to be installed at the edge of a rooftop to get the full benefits of beamforming, says Gabriel Brown, a principal analyst with Heavy Reading (a sister company of Light Reading).
Ericsson has developed AIR 3268 in partnership with BT to address 5G challenges. Through the development process, the ultra-lightweight radio has been designed for 5G mid-band Massive MIMO performance to deliver the benefits of deployment simplicity and improved energy efficiency.
Greg McCall, Managing Director of Service Platforms, BT Group, says: “The 3.5 GHz band and Massive MIMO technology are important to our 5G network strategy to deliver the best customer experience in urban areas. We continue to add capacity within our market-leading 5G coverage, but to maximize our ability to deploy this technology, we need to minimize the burden on our site infrastructure.”
He adds: BT is pleased to be working with Ericsson on this product, which is less than half the size and weight of our current solution, reducing wind loading on existing sites and providing potential for adding 3.5 GHz Massive MIMO in new locations. The reduced power consumption will help BT deliver on our sustainability ambition.”
David Hammarwall, Head of Product Line Radio, Ericsson, says: “We continue to revolutionize Massive MIMO with ultra-lightweight radios that allow easier site upgrades and more seamless 5G mid-band deployments. AIR 3268 widens the options for the radio site, allowing service providers to boost their networks and deliver faster 5G speeds and response times. It is also energy-efficient, which is important to us and our customers.”
With its size and weight, AIR 3268 will simplify upgrades and new site acquisitions even in locations where footprint may prove challenging. The new radio also supports Ericsson’s mini bracket, providing lower total weight and easier installations.
AIR 3268 joins the family of ultra-lightweight radios launched in February this year. Like the rest of the company’s Massive MIMO radios, it is designed with Ericsson Silicon, providing real-time channel estimation and ultra-precise beamforming that improves coverage and user experience.
Ericsson also offers optimized site solutions with integrated transport for dense urban areas as part of its comprehensive transport and site solutions portfolio.
This week, Ericsson installed a new antenna-integrated radio solution (AIR 3227) on the roof of Speechmark, Vodafone UK’s central London office that, according to the telecom vendor, reduced the site’s daily network energy consumption by an average of 43% in direct comparison to previous generations of radio technology, and as much as 55% at off-peak times.
Designed for future-proof and sustainable networks, Ericsson’s new radio is 51 percent lighter than existing radio’s [1.] and its more compact design and improved energy management features will help to optimize overall site footprint, making 5G rollout and 4G upgrades faster and easier.
Note 1. The comparison is with the 64TR antenna units from Ericsson that Vodafone has been rolling out so far, which are very heavy (about 60 kilos) and less energy efficient, noted Vodafone UK’s Head of Performance and Radio, Ker Anderson, at a media briefing earlier this week.
“Vodafone is looking for ways to deploy 5G in a more energy-efficient way. When we started rolling out 5G we were using a 64-by-64 [64TR] panel from Ericsson and it’s close to 60 kilos in weight and burns electricity for fun,” noted Anderson, who added that the new AIR 3227 unit, while on paper having half the capacity of the 64TR units, “performs just as well… two years of technology evolution means we can now get the same performance from a 32-by-32 that we got with the first generation 64-by-64. Plus, they’re half the weight, and we’ve got a 43% energy reduction. So it’s been a real godsend for us for this product to come along and it’s the right thing for us to deploy – it’s cheaper, it’s faster, burns less electricity and the performance is really, really good,” Anderson said.
1,500 of the new energy efficient Ericsson radios will be deployed across Vodafone’s network by April 2022, helping to reduce Vodafone’s forecasted energy consumption of its future 5G network and support a sustainable and responsible 5G rollout.
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, says: “Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, replace legacy equipment with up-to-date alternatives and use the most energy efficient options available. The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with our partner Ericsson. There is no silver bullet to manage our network energy consumption – it is about putting sustainability at the heart of every decision and adding up all the small gains to make a material difference.”
Björn Odenhammar, Chief Technology Officer, Networks and Managed Services, Ericsson UK and Ireland, says: “Building on the success of an award-winning 5G network in London, it is another fantastic achievement for Vodafone and Ericsson to reduce network energy consumption by a daily average of 43 percent. Sustainability is central to Ericsson’s purpose and our new radio will help Vodafone to reduce network energy consumption, simplify network rollout and efficiently manage the expected growth in data traffic of both current and future 5G networks. Together we are building the 5G network of the future – one that delivers the highest possible performance with improved resource efficiency and low environmental impacts.”
Ericsson and Vodafone UK first launched commercial 5G services in 2019. The strong working partnership was recognised for a high performing best-in-class 5G network in London in 2020. In June 2021, it was announced that Ericsson will be supporting Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications – a critical milestone to deliver 5G Standalone connectivity services.
The two companies have also been collaborating to reduce the environmental impact of site upgrades and speed up network deployment through the use of drones and Ericsson’s Intelligent Site Engineering service.
- Ericsson released its largest consumer study to date, representing the opinions of 2.3 billion consumers across 31 markets
- On average, consumers will add 2.5 new services to their online activities by 2025
- Consumers’ time spent online is set to increase by ten hours per week on average by 2025
Called The Future Urban Reality, the Ericsson ConsumerLab report is Ericsson’s largest consumer study to date. It reveals key insights about what consumers believe will happen beyond the pandemic to the year 2025.
Representing the equivalent opinions of 2.3 billion consumers across 31 markets worldwide, the report predicts that consumers will not only continue to manage routine activities – such as remote work, e-learning, e-health and online grocery shopping – online but will also add an average of 2.5 new services. The report predicts that consumers will instead prioritize their leisure time to travel more, practice mindful living and spend time with friends and family.
As a result of increased online activities, consumers are predicted to spend, on average, an extra ten hours per week online when they enter the next normal. This move is also expected to close the gap between moderate and advanced online users, with the more moderate online users having introduced more online services in their daily life over the course of the pandemic.
Zeynep Ahmet, Senior Researcher, ConsumerLab, Ericsson Research, says: “Throughout the pandemic, information and communication technologies (ICT) have become the key means for consumers to manage many aspects in their everyday lives. Our latest findings suggest that this will continue well into the ‘next normal’ and beyond. This trend can support consumers to prioritize more of the important things in life, whether that is spending more time with loved ones or leading a healthier lifestyle. As an enabler of new online habits, it is clear that both mobile networks and digital inclusion efforts will play a crucial role in building tomorrow’s resilient, inclusive and equal societies.”
Key findings from the report:
- Anything routine will happen online by 2025: one in two consumers expect to use e-learning for upskilling. More than half of consumers globally believe all their entertainment activities will be online. More than one-third of consumers will order their groceries mainly online going forward.
- 64 percent of consumers expect heightened stress-levels within society: more than three-in-five consumers believe that it will be necessary to juggle multiple jobs to maintain a decent income. At the same time, seven-in-ten consumers expect to lead healthier lives.
- Convenience will come at the cost of privacy: while 75 percent of consumers predict that life will be steered by convenience in 2025, seven-in-ten also expect to pay more attention to their online security and privacy.
- Local shopping will lead the way: driven partly by environmental concerns, half of consumers globally expect to shop for more locally made products and produce as a new future norm.
- Half of consumers express a concern for climate change, yet 67 percent are looking to increase their leisure travel going forward: while most consumers believe that more sustainable travel options should be made accessible, only one in three indicate that they will refrain from flying when traveling for leisure in the future.
- Time spent online will increase by an average of 10 hours per week by 2025: the dependence on online platforms is expected to continue beyond the pandemic, with consumers predicting that they will add 2.5 more services on average to their daily online activities by 2025. This reiterates the importance of digital inclusion in ensuring an equal and resilient ‘next normal.’
Ericsson announced a new upload speed record with 5G on mmWave spectrum – double the current upload speeds and the fastest recorded to date.
In a four-component carrier uplink aggregation tests with MediaTek, a peak throughput rate of 495 Mbps was achieved. This included 425 Mbps on 5G New Radio (5G RAN) test and a 70 Mbps on 4G-LTE test.
The demo performed in June used pre-commercial software on a device containing a MediaTek M80 5G chipset. The lab tests used Ericsson RAN Compute baseband 6648 with the AIR 5331 millimeter wave radio. Four carriers of 100 MHz each in the 39 GHz band were used for non-standalone 5G, along with 20 MHz in the 1,900 MHz band for LTE (more in Tech Details below).
Ericsson said the test of uplink carrier aggregation is the first of its kind, as the industry previously focused more on boosting download speeds. The increased adoption in the past year of home working and schooling has driven the use of applications like videoconferencing that require also fast upload speeds.
Upload speed dictates how quickly data is sent from the computer or handheld device to the internet. This includes uploading files, such as photos and videos to social media or collaborative worksites. Upload speeds are also crucial to the image and sound quality of video conferencing. Strong uplink means less or even none of those frozen screens, or broken audio, when using apps like Skype or Microsoft Teams. Similarly, faster uplink improves voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls and online gaming experience.
Hannes Ekström, Head of Product Line 5G RAN at Ericsson, said: “We continue to build on our previous successes, breaking our own record in upload speed. With a peak rate of close to 500 Mbps, we’ve demonstrated in this latest milestone with MediaTek how unprecedented data speeds can be delivered in uplink using mmWave and carrier aggregation. This means our customers can enhance their 5G offerings with higher uplink data rates, vastly improving user experience.”
JS Pan, General Manager of Wireless Communication System and Partnership at MediaTek, said: “This world’s first demonstration of an industry-leading mmWave uplink technology in partnership with Ericsson, shows MediaTek is again establishing 5G milestones and pushing the envelope of its capabilities. 5G mmWave connectivity helps boost network coverage and capacity, faster performance, and introduces more diverse use cases.”
This latest technology milestone follows a single user multiple input multiple output (SU-MIMO demo in April 2021 when Ericsson delivered a single user uplink data rate of 315 Mbps, 15-20 times faster than current typical uplink speed.
Ericsson and MediaTek integrated four component carrier, each of 100 MHz, in the uplink using non-standalone architecture (aggregating 8x100MHz in the downlink and 4×100 MHz in the uplink). The integration carried out in a lab setting resulted in a throughput of 495 Mbps (425 Mbps in 5G plus 70 Mbps in 4G), doubling the current uplink speed on the market.
The test was done using the 39 GHz spectrum of NR (400 MHz) and combining it with a single carrier of LTE 1900 MHz spectrum (20 MHz). The whole bandwidth was then aggregated using the LTE and NR links, realizing a total throughput of close to 500 Mbps.