Ericsson unveils new 5G products and solutions

Ericsson introduced a number of new products and solutions to enhance its 5G platform at its Pre-MWC Media and Analyst briefing in London on 13 February.
Ericsson unveils new 5G products and solutions

The new additions were largely on the operations and business support services side and are designed to enhance the user experience, cut complexity and cost, and enable faster deployment of services and to boost automated provisioning. There was also a new Radio Dot product and some new products for the Ericsson Radio System.

Setting the scene, Fredrik Jejdling, Executive VP and Head of Business Area Networks, said that 2019 was the year in which 5G was introduced and now the main effort in 2020 is how to scale it up. Phase One of 5G was standardised by 3GPP 18 months early and there are now 13 million 5G subscriptions with South Korea and the USA leading the way, he reported.

Jejdling estimates we will see 100 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2020 with 20 to 25 percent of MNOs launching 5G this year. In terms of take up, he said much depends on consumer pricing and what the MNOs will charge subscribers and what service bundles are offered. At present, most 5G use cases relate to faster broadband for consumers, but newer uses cases will start to come in later in the year.

Half of all consumers are apparently willing to pay 20% more for 5G over 4G and Jejdling reported that almost two thirds of operators are positioning 5G as a high-end or exclusive service. SK Telecom and KT in South Korea have done this and have raised ARPU to create growth in the consumer segment. But it will be the introduction of the industrial use cases later on that will be vital to the take up of 5G, he said.

Ericsson currently has 24 live 5G networks and 81 commercial agreements signed.

Telstra in Australia went live in April 2019, quickly followed by all three Korean MNOs and Vodafone in various European countries. “We expect a lot of volume coming from China this year,” said Jejdling. “We now have 5G networks across three continents and across three spectrum bands all at the same time, which puts a lot of pressure on us, hence there is a lot of investment this year.”

New 5G core solutions

Folke Anger, Head of Solution Line Packet Core, Business Area Digital Services, explained that to leverage the full benefits of 5G and cloud native investments, orchestration and automation are now critical business matters. Ericsson has therefore strengthened its 5G platform with new solutions, which will help service providers get to market faster, thereby enabling them to capitalise on new services.

The latest enhancements include Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G core with built-in software probes and Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure, enabling service providers to reduce TCO and complexity, while deploying a 5G Core network. The Ericsson Communication Accelerator is designed to enable fast delivery of advanced mobile business communication services to the market. Ericsson also launched its fully-automated eSIM solution.

Dual-mode 5G core with built-in software probes

Anger said of the software probes solution that “the focus here is to help MNOs run 5G networks as efficiently as possible. A lot of stuff is coming into the 5G Cloud Core and the traditional approach to data collection is not sustainable going forward. Eighty to 90 percent of MNOs have physical probes in their infrastructure, which is expensive. Software probes are easier and cheaper. We can collect data and feed it up to them using Ericsson Experience.”

Ericsson argues that built-in software probes enables radical TCO reductions and that the transparent and secure interfaces in the 5G core will keep sensitive data secured. If Ericsson’s solution is pre-integrated with Ericsson Expert Analytics for 5G this allows for “superior experience, accelerates 5G adoption and correlated end-to-end insights are extendable to RAN”.

5G Core leveraging new Cloud Native Infrastructure

Ericsson is introducing containers on a bare metal cloud infrastructure solution to better support the deployment of cloud native applications, such as 5G Core. Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure is designed to radically simplify the infrastructure for automated deployments across central and edge sites.

TCO savings can be as high as 30% or more, Ericsson claimed, compared with using virtual machines. By eliminating the virtualisation layer from the cloud infrastructure, complexity is reduced, and service providers benefit from improved hardware efficiency and performance.

Growing top line with Ericsson Communication Accelerator

The aim of the Ericsson Communication Accelerator is to speed up the delivery of advanced mobile business communication services to the market. The offering consists of cloud-based micro services to be combined in different use cases utilising a service provider’s existing network assets. The solution is delivered as-a-service for scale and reduced time to market, as well as for security and quality of service control.

New service opportunities include: enterprise voice services combining traditional business voice services with innovative features to enhance operator offerings; IoT voice services providing automated, central management of IoT voice services; and

contextual communication services to enable easy integration with advanced communication and collaboration services into any website or application.

Fully-automated eSIM solution

The eSIM solution is being introduced to remove physical SIM cards for improved user experience. Ericsson said it is also beneficial for device manufacturers, where devices can be designed with end-users and consumers in focus.

The eSIM solution offers remote provisioning of user profiles and device management, key functions that enable communication service providers (CSPs) to manage user profiles in a more flexible way. Good user experience of the services requires management of both devices and network elements, according to Ericsson.

A recent report from Ericsson ConsumerLab shows strong consumer demand for eSIM services, with 94 percent of respondents willing to pay extra to connect more devices to their current subscription plan, and 86 percent hoping for “try and buy” offerings.

AI-powered Network Services

Ericsson also launched two new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered offerings in its Network Services portfolio, which are designed to enable “communications service providers to secure always-on networks and deliver optimal user experiences”.

Network Intelligence ensures service continuity by using data analytics to unify Ericsson’s technology and services knowledge, while Omni Network Channel digitalises Ericsson Support Services for quicker resolution of network issues through online collaboration.

Nello Califano, Head of Strategy & Portfolio Management, said: “We are really listening to the customer to try to solve problems in operational flow.” He observed that while 5G brings a lot of benefits, as it enables MNOs to use their assets in a better way, such as network slicing, from an operational point of view it is a huge challenge to manage the whole multi-vendor environment.

How can MNOs deliver the best consumer experience in this complex environment? According to Ericsson they need: AI-powered easy operations; transparency and easy access to network knowledge and insights; and service continuity enabled by self-healing networks. Network Intelligence and Omni Network Channel are designed to deliver this.

Both Network Intelligence and Omni Network Channel form part of Ericsson’s Network Services offering. They employ “AI, automation and predictive analytics to address the complex reality faced by communications service providers: exponential data growth; and the continuous introduction of new technologies such as 5G, digital transformation, and scattered information sources and insights”.

The company described Network Intelligence as an AI-driven preemptive support service that allows issues to be identified and resolved before they impact network performance. The service prevents critical outages and delivers the network stability needed for service continuity and optimal end-to-end performance.

Ericsson said its research shows that Network Intelligence reduces critical incidents by up to 35 percent by carrying out selective data collection, and automatically resolves issues within an average of five minutes from data collection.

Omni Network Channel is a unified digital workspace for interaction between the communications service provider and Ericsson, providing easy navigation, self-help and smooth collaboration.

The workspace enhances network performance and consumer satisfaction through faster resolution of both the communications service provider and Ericsson operations’ issues. It also facilitates the adoption of new technologies such as 5G and supports communications service providers with the competence development of their personnel.

Indoor Radio Dot System portfolio strengthened for 5G

Ericsson has made new additions to its Radio Dot System portfolio, which it says will allow communications service providers to optimise existing assets with increased flexibility, including backhaul options and spectral holdings.

It has launched: the Dot 4475, a tri-band Radio Dot (8T8R) supporting multi-band, multi-operator deployments; a new fibre solution for increased backhaul flexibility – the Hybrid Fiber IRU 1649 and the RFX 1110 (remote RFX module); and the IRU 8848 to support combined 4G and 5G deployments.These new solutions will be generally available in the second half of 2020.

The new multi-band Dot and IRU ensure higher network speeds through carrier aggregation, including support for both 4G and 5G on one Cat cable. This creates stable and easy migration paths for service providers. The fibre solution will also allow service providers to capitalise on pre-existing fibre in buildings.

KT, one of the leading South Korean service providers, has begun trialing the Radio Dot System on its commercial network to expand indoor 5G coverage for subscribers.

Ericsson Radio System

At the media and analyst briefing, David Hammarwall, Head of Product Line Radio, Business Area Networks, gave an update on the latest kit available in the Ericsson Radio System based on its Ericsson Many Core Architecture (EMCA), a single architecture for RAN processing.

In 2019, Ericsson introduced its RAN Compute solution, a radio access processing platform in the Ericsson Radio System incorporating new basebands and radio processors. The company has begun shipping its new Baseband 6648, which provides up to three times more capacity and it is optimised to deliver the best energy efficiency per delivered bit.

It is now introducing its 3-in-1 converged Router 6673, which unites what were three previously separate elements: CPRI multiplexer; coloured optics; and the cell site router. “You can also embed EMCA RAN processing to provide one touch RAN management between network and transport to provide a lot of flexibility in how you build a cell site,” said Hammarwall.

Other elements include Massive MIMO to build capacity into the RAN and Ericsson Spectrum Sharing, which Hammarwall said has been trialled and is in operation by MNOs. It allows MNOs to reuse the same radios, reuse shared CPRI links and to utilise the shared RAN compute baseband. The solution enables MNOs to provide 5G services in 4G spectrum. Hammarwall said the split between 4G and 5G is evaluated every millisecond to enable fully dynamic allocation between 4G and 5G without pre-set levels.

He added that Ericsson’s acquisition of antenna manufacturer Kathrein is bearing fruit with new products that combine both passive and active antennas. Products include the RAN macro sector 6313 passive + active antenna; the Air 3228 dual band Massive MIMO - (two bands using Massive MIMO); and the AIR 3278 300 MHz bandwidth on 5G carriers.

AI-powered Energy Infrastructure Operations

Finally, Ericsson also launched AI-powered Energy Infrastructure Operations - a new energy management solution that leverages artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics to optimise energy consumption across network infrastructure for communications service providers.

The solution is designed to decrease OPEX and CO2 emissions for communications service providers. It uses AI and data analytics to optimise energy efficiency and maximise site availability. The new solution is integrated into the Ericsson Operations Engine – the company’s AI-based, data-driven approach to managed services.

Energy Infrastructure Operations uses the latest technology to create energy efficiencies on the radio network, where most savings can be achieved. The new solution not only addresses site-related energy savings, but also operational efficiencies to enable less site visits to be performed, ultimately resulting in CO2 emission reduction across multiple layers.

Deployment of AI-powered Energy Infrastructure Operations can achieve (indicative) savings of:

  • 15 percent decrease in energy-related OPEX
  • 15 percent reduction in site visits related to passive infrastructure
  • 30 percent reduction of energy related outages.

Jonas Akeson, Head of AI & Automation, Business Area Managed Services, said that Ericsson’s AI by Design solutions will help operators save energy and enable more efficient operations by providing the ability to shut down and put to sleep base stations based on predictive patterns, predictive battery autonomy and by enabling power failure predictions.

The Energy Infrastructure Operations solution has been trialed with customers in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Latin America and is currently live in Telenor Myanmar’s network.

Ericsson pointed out that today, energy consumption ranges from 20 to 40 percent of a site operation OPEX annually. According to Ericsson’s AI report, OPEX reduction ranks among the top priorities for operators.