Ahead of the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Ericsson has unveiled its new 5G platform. CommsMEA spoke to Isil Yalcin, head of network products, Ericsson Middle East to understand how the platform will enable providers in the region to make a smooth transition to 5G.
CommsMEA: How do the new launched functionalities improve the readiness for adoption of 5G?
With the new launch all the components of the 5G platform are in place and we are making our system truly end-to-end. With the new products, we are introducing a full portfolio that covers 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with digital support systems, transformation services and security. Ericsson 5G portfolio will help telecom operators to experiment with new revenue streams as various industries are going through a massive digital transformation.
CommsMEA: Does Ericsson foresee early commercial deployments of 5G in the MEA region?
5G in MEA will mainly be accelerated by events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Those will create new opportunities and accelerate 5G introduction in the region. Governments, telecom regulatory authorities, universities and vendors are working together to find use cases that, when combined with operator infrastructure assets, will bring new socio-economic gains.
CommsMEA: Which are the use cases that could spark maximum interest especially in the MEA region?
For MEA region, several use cases could be of interest from agriculture, oil & gas, fixed wireless access, healthcare, smart cities and mining to self-driving cars in addition to use cases related to Expo 2020 and the FIFA World Cup.
CommsMEA: How cost-expensive is it going to be for the operators to be first movers in 5G?
In order for operators to be cost-effective in their move to 5G, they have to rely on the existing 4G technology to act as the anchor coverage providing layer. Ericsson has developed solutions called 5G plug-ins for smooth transition to 5G.
CommsMEA: What are key elements to be 5G ready?
Ericsson's new 5G platform comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with digital support systems, transformation services and security. It is very important to look at the end-to-end aspect of 5G. 5G readiness also means to have at least a use case in mind to implement with the new technology in collaboration with related industries and academia.
CommsMEA: What kind of revenue potential do you think 5G brings in for MEA region?
In addition to improving the revenue potential of existing use cases such as mobile broadband, 5G will open up for cross industry possibility of monetisation.
CommsMEA: What makes Ericsson’s platform end-to-end even before the 5G standards have been finalised?
Ericsson's new 5G platform comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with digital support systems, transformation services and security, which is the first of its kind. Ericsson is also a leader in 5G standardisation activities working closely with the 5G front runners globally. This gives Ericsson the opportunity to be among the first to develop such a truly end to end and complete 5G offering.
CommsMEA: When can operators actually start generating ROI out of 5G investments?
The ROI of 5G investments will depend on many factors especially the pick-up rate of the offered service as well as how it is priced. All operators will be doing this exercise as part of their investment planning in order to decide on how to invest in 5G.
CommsMEA: What are the main challenges you foresee on the way to adoption and commercial deployment of 5G?
According to Ericsson survey of top executives to better understand the 5G readiness of operators around the world, the top identified challenges include lack of mature ecosystem, development of appropriate use cases and concerns around data security and privacy.