Ericsson was recently named a Leader by Gartner, a leading research and advisory company in their 2021 Magic Quadrant for 5G Network Infrastructure for Communications Service Providers. In this episode of the Ericsson News Podcast, we're joined by Paul Cowling, Analyst Relations Expert at Ericsson, to talk more about Ericsson’s position as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
Host: Paul Cowling, thank you very much for being a part of this podcast, I appreciate it.
Paul Cowling: I’m more than happy to talk to you, David.
Host: So, Paul, can you start by explaining a little bit more about Gartner Magic Quadrant Report and why it's considered such an important metric in our industry?
Paul Cowling: Okay, so let's break that down a little bit. Gartner is an analyst and consultancy firm. They're one of the biggest in the industry, and, you know, what they say and their opinion on things therefore is seen as influential in terms of how different players in the industry view what's happening in terms of technologies but also where different vendors are in terms of being able to deliver solutions that meet customer needs.
The Magic Quadrant Report is one of their flagship reports. They do a wide range of them on very many different subjects, and this is one that is particularly relevant to the telecom industry and mobile, looking at what's happening in 5G. 5G is new — this is the first time that they've done a 5G Magic Quadrant Report, so, of course, there's lots of interest in terms of, you know, how different vendors fair when it comes to assessment.
Host: The past 12 months of the year 2020 was a pretty big year for 5G and that’s what we’re going to talk about in a few minutes. But from your perspective, what recent achievements and milestones from Ericsson’s side propelled us into this Leaders’ position in this Gartner report?
Paul Cowling: Well, I wouldn't actually just restrict it to recent things because I think the first thing that's strongly in our favor is the work that we did back as far as 2013 in designing products that were 5G capable, even though 5G wasn't even standardized at the time.
So, we've had a very good platform for delivering 5G onto this, already rolled out and already in place with operators. So, that's the first thing. We had a very strong geographical presence, so we were present in all the markets from North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, China, Australia and across the globe. We have a very good footprint, and we were right at the leading edge in terms of rolling out in pretty much all of those geographies during 2019.
We've seen very good momentum during 2020, and one of the things that’s kind of underpinned that is the functionality that we have for dynamic spectrum sharing, which is a technique that allows you to run 5G and 4G in the same spectrum band. By doing that and combining maybe with 5G-specific frequency bands, you can get a good balance between performance and coverage, and you can roll out coverage very quickly. So, you know, that I think has been a fantastic thing for both for us but also for operators in terms of being able to bring 5G out to the market.
We’re very strong, I think, when it comes to coverage across the spectrum bands, so we have, you know, 5G support and capability right from low band, all the way into the very high frequency bands at 28 gigahertz and above.
Host: You mentioned our spectrum sharing offering and a couple of offerings from our portfolio, but there was a lot of commercial momentum last year as well within 5G. I was wondering if you can just mention a few of the highlights for Ericsson, and maybe even for the industry, when it comes to this.
Paul Cowling: Okay, sure, there are very many aspects which go into this. So, some of the things that we've done during the past year or so is that we opened new production facilities for instance, we have a new factory in the US with factories in Europe and in China. They are all equipped and using 5G in the factory and demonstrating how 5G can play a part in innovation within industries.
Industries is one of the big areas where we see growth and potential for the application of 5G. Even in the US, we went as far having new training running for the guys that will go out and work on the towers because, you know, the scope of the rollout is such that you need more skilled people doing that type of work. It’s quite a specialized work, and it's an area where safety is important. So, we got training sites in the US, specifically focused on that.
I think we've seen good interest in take up all around the world — from Claro, for instance, in Latin America, the first operator in Latin America. We've seen continued take up and interest in Asia, lots happening in places like Australia, and the Chinese have been rolling out in great numbers. I think sometime during the latter half of 2020, we passed the hundred-customer milestone with a hundred operator agreements, and I think we're now we're somewhere over 70 live operator networks with Ericsson. That's great and fantastic.
We've seen a lot of interesting projects in Europe, for instance around 5G and industrial use cases, so that's things like, using projects with Mercedes and Daimler in their factories in Germany, using 5G in the manufacturing. They are doing that as part of a brand-new factory — they’re looking to be a model for how they're going to do car manufacturing there in the factories around the world.
Host: I realized it might not be part of the Magic Quadrant assessment, but sustainability and, specifically, energy efficiency are such a big part of how 5G was designed from the start. I’m just wondering if you can talk a little bit more about how 5G can be used to break the energy curve in our industry.
Paul Cowling: Suddenly, within the mobile industry, one of the aims from the outset and standardization of 5G was to bring down the energy consumption and particularly the amount of it — you know, the energy per bid. So, as data volumes continue to rise, it's not economically viable, and it's not sustainable to have energy consumption rising.
So, the 5G technology was designed to be able to offer 10 times the volume of traffic with lower consumption than we've been having with 4G. There's lots of reasons for that, and we actually talked about it in an episode of the Voice of 5G Podcast. I think on a sustainability front, it contributes more than that because IT is one of those technologies that you can use to increase efficiency, so that's the same things with less energy basically so, to reduce the carbon footprint of the other things that we do in society.
A part of this discussion is how does IT contribute to reducing carbon footprint? In the podcast, we talk about the exponential climate roadmap, which is a work we are involved with third-party organizations, looking at how you can cut carbon emissions by 50 percent, decade over decade. So, 50 percent to 2030 and a further 50 percent to 2040. IT is one of the key enablers of that and through the road map, we see the opportunity to cut global emissions by something like 15 percent through the application of IT technologies, in which 5G is an important one.
Host: Finally, Paul, before I let you go, I have one more question. The pandemic has been such a dominant issue for everyone over these past 12 months, and I just wonder how has this global health crisis impacted the 5G landscape over the past year?
Paul Cowling: I think the surprising thing maybe is that it's not impacted as much as you might expect. I think all through the pandemic, we've seen large numbers of networks going live despite the fact that those countries are coping with the pandemic and lockdown. We've seen in network engineering teams, maintaining and keeping networks running despite the restrictions that are in place.
We've seen societies, which were kind of very big changes for the operator in terms of how people are using networks. People are working from home and not going into the office, so the traffic flows in the networks are quite different. So, there's been incredible work I think from the industry and from the operators to actually maintain the network and provide connectivity but also to roll out and improve networks during that period. I think, surprisingly enough, the impact of Covid has been quite limited in terms of the operations within the telecom industry.
Host: And also going forward, I mean, 5G represents a great opportunity for economic recovery as economies have taken a big hit during this pandemic.
Paul Cowling: Well, for me, personally, it's an interesting question when we start to see Covid decline and society come back to normal. Are we going to return to doing things the way that they were being done before 2019? How much are we going to embrace 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things? How much are we going to use those technologies to actually change the way that we work and run society, for instance, to improve sustainability or to give people more time at home? What is the role of technology going to be when we get back to normal?
Host: Paul, thank you very much for being a part of this podcast, it's always a pleasure to speak with you.
Paul Cowling: And the same to you, David. Thank you!
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