5G: T-Mobile, Ericsson ink $3.5 billion deal, Verizon, Vodafone advance
Ericsson 5G demo
Multiparty 39GHz 5G demo (credit: Ericsson)

5G: T-Mobile, Ericsson ink $3.5 billion deal, Verizon, Vodafone advance

US network carrier T-Mobile and networking and telecoms provider Ericsson have signed a multi-year contract worth £3.5 billion.

The deal will see Ericsson support T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G rollout, supplying the latest 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software. It will also expand the carrier’s existing LTE capacity needs, while future-proofing the network.

Alongside hardware, Ericsson will also provide digital services, including dynamic orchestration and business support systems (BSS), along with its Ericsson Cloud Core product, enabling T-Mobile to more easily launch 5G experiences to its customers.

Commenting on the agreement, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said: “While the other guys just make promises, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. With this new Ericsson agreement we’re laying the groundwork for 5G – and with Sprint we can supercharge the 5G revolution.”

Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America, added:

We have recently decided to increase our investments in the US to be closer to our leading customers and better support them with their accelerated 5G deployments, thereby bringing 5G to life for consumers and enterprises across the country.

“This agreement marks a major milestone for both companies. We are excited about our partnership with T-Mobile, supporting them to strengthen, expand, and speed up the deployment of their nationwide 5G network.”

Plus: Verizon signing up customers for claimed 5G service

In related news, US communications giant Verizon is asking customers to sign up for what it claims is the world’s first commercial 5G service, in a sign of the provider marketing battles to come.

Verizon 5G Home is set to launch in the US on 1 October – using a proprietary approach built on the millimetre-wave spectrum.

Wireless customers can expect speeds of between 300Mbps and 1Gbps with no data cap, said the company.

Plus: Vodafone expands 5G IoT network

In further related news, Vodafone is to double the number of European cell sites in its 5G Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network by the end of 2019.

The world’s biggest international NB-IoT network will be available in 10 European countries, including planned launches in the UK, Romania, and Hungary, said Vodafone today.

NB-IoT is the ‘industrial grade’ low-power, wide-area technology that will provide connectivity for many smart city applications, along with connected technology deployments in other sectors, such as agriculture.

Additional reporting: Chris Middleton.

Internet of Business says

There’s a huge amount of bluster coming from network providers regarding their 5G products and plans. Partly because these products can’t yet speak for themselves (most providers won’t launch 5G offerings until 2019), but also because carriers have had little to distinguish them in terms of technology for years.

Some are eager to be the first to launch, while others claim that their 5G will be better than others – enter Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband. AT&T, meanwhile, recently announced that it carried out the world’s first phone call over 5G.

Ericsson looks set to join the marketing throng this week (in partnership with AT&T and T-Mobile), in its first ever public demonstration. It will carry out a 5G NR over-the-air data call using 39 GHz mmWave band at Mobile World Congress Americas.

Commenting ahead of the demonstration, Fredrik Jejdling, executive VP and head of Networks at Ericsson, said: “This accomplishment shows that 5G is ready for business. Together with our partners, we are continuing to prove the readiness of both the underlying technology and the ecosystem.”

For all the talk, there is real progress too. And Ericsson is popping up in breakthroughs and partnerships with increasing regularity: a company that’s demonstrably on the move.

In July Ericsson, Telstra, and Intel made what they claimed was the first end-to-end 5G data call over a commercial network.

More recently, Ericsson teamed up with Sprint to deliver intelligence at the network edge – recognising another key technology for industry, edge computing.

While the 5G rhetoric is beginning to pall, it’s at least a measure of the industry’s excitement about the technology – which it hopes will translate into customer sign-ups, loyalty, and new revenue streams. But the commercial aspect of 5G has yet to be proven, of course.

And there are still hurdles to overcome, not least 5G’s limited range and penetration. But there’s enormous promise too. Many analysts believe that 5G – together with full-fibre broadband and edge computing services – will finally bring about a future of smart cities and connected transport.