Fifth Generation (5G) technology will position service providers at the center of the digital ecosystem, says President and CEO of Ericsson, Börje Ekholm, in a keynote fireside chat at the 2018 Mobile World Congress
Ekholm talked with Co-anchor of Squawk Box Europe on CNBC, Karen Tso, during one of the keynote sessions called ‘The Foundations of The Digital Economy’.
He reiterated that 5G has moved from buzzword to a commercial reality, highlighting the company’s 38 MoUs and several commercial contracts with service providers. “We see 5G as a way to show the value of the network,” he said. “A lot of technology depends on a strong mobile infrastructure.”
He added that while increased speed will be important with 5G, lower latency and longer battery life could be even more so.
5G has been designed to be the industrial internet, with remote control of machinery and maintenance with augmented reality (AR) as two prime examples. “At the same time, the consumer will see this too, for instance, in healthcare and autonomous vehicles where low latency will be a critical factor,” Ekholm said.
Ekholm addressed the need for the right regulatory regime, emphasizing deregulation and easier site permitting processes, which will allow for the rapid build-out of sites necessary for 5G.
“It’s important for governments to see networks as critical natural resources,” he said. “100 years ago, we built out railways and roads. The future roads are digital highways.”
Tso and Ekholm finished by looking ahead to the future on several levels; commercially, in terms of new devices and in how 5G will dramatically change lives.
Enumerating some reasons why 5G will be commercially viable, Ekholm said: “5G will be a commercial reality for a couple of reasons. The first is data traffic. We need 5G to bring cost per gigabyte down. We also see that early movers in new technology gain a benefit. We saw that with early movers in 4G – they get higher average revenue per user and higher market share.”
Ericsson predicts that there will be a billion 5G devices on the market by 2023, and they could likely shift how we interact with our connected devices.
“We’ll see more wearables,” Ekholm said. “And fragmentation on the device side will be larger. Today the smartphone is the center of ecosystem. That could look different in a 5G world.”
But it’s also about opening up possibilities.
“Think about the smartphone,” he said. “Did we think that we would use it to stream video and music, order food and order a cab? No. The new use cases will come as the technology matures.”