The landlocked Eastern Himalayan country of the Kingdom of Bhutan boasts some of the remotest, most stunning and challenging contrasting geographical landscapes in the world. They are no barrier, however, to the nation also benefitting from best next-generation connectivity available anywhere in the world, thanks to an Ericsson partnership with Bhutan Telecom to deploy 5G.
Ericsson has already partnered with Bhutan Telecom to deploy previous generations of mobile connectivity. This included providing connectivity in parts of country where navigation is often only possible by motorable mountain passes.
The breathtaking Chele La pass is one such example. At 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) elevation, it offers one of the most famous views of the Himalayas, in particular the sacred Mount Jhomalari.
In addition to Bhutanese citizens, tens of thousands of tourists, trekkers and hikers worldwide will be familiar with the Chele La pass and its views. They may also be familiar with the fact that despite its remoteness, it is connected to Bhutan Telecom’s network and so, in turn, to the rest of the world.
That impressive achievement and network connectivity provision was the work of joint deployment and product capability expertise from Ericsson and Bhutan Telecom.
It is this type of barrier-breaking collaboration that Ericsson and Bhutan Telecom aim to build on as the communications service provider (CSP) embarks on deploying 5G connectivity in. other parts of the country.
The 5G deployment will also contribute to Bhutanese Government’s efforts to bridge the digital divide in the country and drive innovative fourth industrial revolution (4IR), or Industry 4.0, opportunities for businesses, industries, verticals and the public sectors.
Ericsson will work with Bhutan Telecom to explore related next-generation use cases tapping artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).
5G services are expected to be rolled out in Bhutan in the last quarter of 2021.
Ericsson will be responsible for rollout of the 5G network. The contract includes 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) deployment spanning Ericsson Radio System products and solutions, including Ericsson Spectrum Sharing.
It also encompasses software upgrades in Ericsson Cloud Packet Core, Cloud Unified Data Management and Policy, Cloud IMS, and OSS/BSS to add support for 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), while paving the way to the future introduction of 5G Standalone (SA) support.
Karma Jurme, CEO, Bhutan Telecom, says: “We appreciate the Government’s reliance on telecom infrastructure to boost the country’s digital infrastructure. The introduction of 5G will boost digital services in the country and enable Bhutan to become a ‘digital society’.”
Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South East Asia, Oceania and India, says: “We are delighted to partner with Bhutan Telecom on deploying 5G in Bhutan. 5G will undoubtedly serve as a socio-economic multiplier for the country. 5G with its better performance, ultra-high speed, and reliability will benefit consumers through use cases like enhanced mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Access initially. Over time, we will see many new transformative use cases in critical IoT emerge, where the speed, latency and security of the 5G network will be key.”
Ericsson and Bhutan Telecom
Ericsson has partnered with Bhutan Telecom since 2004 when the first mobile network was deployed in the country. Since then, Ericsson has deployed 2G , 3G, and 4G network technologies.
Bhutan Telecom also selected Ericsson as its Business Support Systems (BSS) transormation partner in 2016.
Ericsson and Bhutan Telecom have also deployed a disaster resilient, emergency telecom core network in Bhutan as a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) grant project. The emergency telecom core network, which tapped Ericsson’s Digital Services portfolio, provides users with seamless and uninterrupted connectivity, even during natural calamities.
Ericsson currently has 145 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with communications service providers globally, 96 of which include live 5G networks.