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Ericsson enhances its 5G platform and adds NR compatibility to existing products

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© Ericsson

  • 5G commercial software for radio and core networks ready from Q4
  • Evolves its Distributed Cloud offering to optimise 5G functionality
  • Enhanced 5G Platform with new solutions for the radio and core network
  • All Radio System products delivered since 2015 will support 5G NR

As commercial and financial pressures mount, Ericsson has taken the wraps off its improved and enhanced 5G Platform product suite, just in time for this month’s Mobile World Congress. It has launched 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) commercial software, based on the recently approved 5G NR (New Radio) specification, part of the first drop of the 3GPP Release 15 standard. Ericsson introduced its 5G Platform a year ago in February 2017, with further additions made in September. It comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with OSS/BSS, network services and security. As well as the new software, it has today introduced “Street Macro” radio products, expanded its 5G Core System offering, and also enhanced its Distributed Cloud solution.

It also announced that all radio products within Ericsson Radio System delivered since 2015 will support 5G NR capability through remote software installation.

“Operators who want to be early with 5G now have the essential pieces for launching 5G networks already this year,” said Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and Head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “With our expanded platform, they will get more efficient networks as well as opportunities to create new revenues from emerging consumer and industrial use cases.”

Ericsson’s 5G radio network software will provide multi-band support for global deployment, allowing operators to use new frequency spectrum as it becomes available. It will be available in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The radio software is complemented with 5G Core commercial software optimised for 5G throughput, network capacity and scalability. Ericsson says its Packet Core and Unified Data Management solutions will deliver enhancements throughout 2018 to efficiently support 5G services. These solutions can be further upgraded with new functionalities as the 3GPP 5G standard evolves. 

Distributed Cloud

Ericsson has evolved its Distributed Cloud offering for cloud application deployment across multiple sites, whether they be central, distributed or edge. The managed and orchestrated solution should improve latency, security and resilience, and, says Ericsson, fulfils regulatory requirements for 5G-enabled use cases. It enables telcos to operate networks as open cloud platforms for all workloads, including telecom, consumer and enterprise applications.

As part of the Distributed Cloud, Ericsson will support deployments of hardware options in a multi-vendor framework, using fast deployable telecom-grade open software for remote upgrade and operation, bringing Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) to the edge. To support efficient deployment of cloud native applications, Ericsson has added support for containers in a distributed cloud infrastructure.

“Reduced latency, improved throughput, better security, reliability and regulatory compliance are all critical capabilities that operators must deliver for 5G use cases such as augmented reality, assisted factory and autonomous driving vehicles,” said Roberto Kompany, Senior Analyst at Analysys Mason. “A distributed cloud capability that enables cloud computing, storage and networking to be placed flexibly in central, regional and edge locations and which can be managed seamlessly, end-to-end, is an important component of a 5G platform.” 

Radio portfolio

Ericsson describes its Street Macro products as being a new layer between macro and micro, optimised for city deployments. These radios are intended to be mounted on building facades with a smaller footprint but the necessary strength to secure network efficiency and coverage. The vendor has also unveiled new radio products supporting Massive MIMO technology.

Furthermore, all installed base radios from the Ericsson Radio System delivered since 2015 will be 5G NR-capable by a remote software installation. This applies to more than 150 different radio variants in Ericsson’s portfolio that are active in more than 190 networks around the world, as well as micro radios and existing Radio Dot System products.

Operators will have the possibility to run 4G and 5G in the same band with the same radio and the same baseband. It will also be possible to share the spectrum between 4G and 5G with side-by-side carriers in the same band – even with overlapping carriers, using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing.

“We have a long history of strong backwards compatibility and our products and software are built for evolution – with Ericsson, there is no need to rip and replace,” added Jejdling. “Investments in Ericsson Radio System since 2015 will continue to bring operators value when the time is right to transition to 5G.”

According to Ericsson’s new economic study of enhanced mobile broadband, the evolution to 5G will enable 10 times lower cost per gigabyte than current 4G. It also expects total global mobile data traffic to grow eight times, while 5G subscriptions are forecast to reach 1 billion by the end of 2023.

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