Santa Clara- To feel the vibe of Silicon Valley and find more about 5G opportunities, Daily News Egypt (DNE) visited Silicon Valley’s Ericsson Experience Centre, where visitors can interact with several experts from Ericsson, and witness how technology and ecosystems will drive this transformation by empowering people, businesses, and societies with the solutions and expertise needed to reinvent what is possible.
The place offers an impressive showcase where you can immerse yourself in the latest innovations which will revolutionise our society. Whether you’re interested in networks, IT, or new industries, the centre will inspire you.
Ericsson is one of the leading providers of information and communication technology (ICT) to service providers, with about 40% of the world’s mobile traffic carried through its networks, with a comprehensive portfolio ranging across networks, digital services, managed services, and emerging businesses, powered by 5G and internet of things (IoT) platforms.
DNE interviewed Thomas Olsson, head of the Ericsson Silicon Valley Experience Centre, to determine his thoughts on the adoption of 5G technologies.
Olsson joined Ericsson in 2002 as the head of the Sales Managed Service business unit. He moved to Argentina in 2007, where he was responsible for service delivery and the network’s roll-out across the region in South America. From 2011, he became the head of Global Sales in the Business Unit Support Solutions, based at the HQ in Stockholm, and since 2016 he was named as Vice President and the head of Ericsson’s Experience Centre in Silicon Valley. He is the appointed spokesperson for Ericsson, representing this area, and also speaks at several industrial conferences and seminars.
The transcript for the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How does the Ericsson Experience Centre boost innovation, and improve the tech eco system?
Being a big company, I think we contribute to the dialogue between different eco-system players, and we also educate ourselves through the dialogue with the start-up community as we know the limitations of current technologies, but we don’t know about the opportunities, and the limitations of the next one.
We are trying to be highly active in order to communicate with our partners. We talk about IoT, cloud-computing, artificial intelligence, and what we can bring to the process of industry solutions, as we go forward.
Therefore, I think we are contributing to that process, in addition to our traditional customers, the telecom operators, with half or even more of the traffic at the centre coming from start-ups, eco-systems, and big companies, as they all are trying to figure out what does the 5G technology would mean for them.
What is the biggest challenge facing the adoption of 5G, is it affordability?
To build a 5G network, it doesn’t have a one-use case, in 3G and 4G, the use-case was pretty much the voice connectivity and the mobile broadband, so it was the sim card that you were buying.
For 5G, it is not about the sim card any more, rather it is about the value of information for the industry, and when a machine would be able to communicate with other machines. Those values are part of the initial challenge to define the industry’s use-cases.
The benefit from doing that is that there will suddenly be more business cases, as well as incentives for operators to build a 5G network. I believe that despite the fact that the 5G adoption will be slower at the beginning, but the process will go much faster than it took us to change from 3G to 4G.
However, it is different this time as it is not only about changing from 4G to 5G, rather the new network will be a combination of both. Accordingly, the technology that Ericsson brought to the market will use the same hardware, and we will undergo a software upgrade of what is already there.
How can infrastructure-sharing reduce the cost and accelerate the implementation of the 5G technology?
I think that is actually happening as the possibility to have different use-cases on the same infrastructure will in reality make new use-cases affordable. Take the energy or the mining industry today for example, if you have an oil rig, they can afford to build a dedicated 4G network, but if you have a small workshop or a small garage-company they will not be able to. With 5G, the operator can offer them a shared network as if it was dedicated to them, so the network’s division and reuse will drive the speed of 5G.
When will the 5G revolution take place?
Since October 2018, Verizon has started to offer 5G fixed internet wireless access in the US. In the country, there are 30m households without a cable internet connection as companies do not have an incentive to provide it to these houses, so today these people have poor coverage.
Today, around 60,000 sites in the US are relatively covered with 5G. There are other sites which are not covered because the business case is not there, but if you have hard use cases, operators would build coverage, even where there is no coverage now.
In order to have a 5G network with no latency everywhere, the number of sites might go up from 60,000 sites to 600,000, or perhaps even a million.
A lot of these sites will be lamp-poles, 100 yards away from each other, that is necessary to eliminate latency. In order to build up this network, it will be a challenge, not in terms of technology, rather from a social aspect, as maybe some communities would not want more of this technology.
But I think the challenge for us as a company right now is exploring the limitation for 5G, we don’t know what impact it will have on the different utilities, and the different use-cases.