26 February 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
The first 5G services will be in service by the end of this year, say the CEOs of both Ericsson and Nokia.
The new mobile technology will
primarily fuel the industrial internet, especially in China,
said Ericsson’s CEO, Börje Ekholm, speaking
to analysts and media on Monday morning.
Meanwhile Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri said the US and
China are leading the race to be first with commercial
services, by the end of 2018 or early in 2019.
But both CEOs, speaking at Mobile World Congress, said more
spectrum is needed for 5G services to be successful. "The US
needs to be more advanced in spectrum, he told analysts and
media on Sunday afternoon. "This needs to be urgent for policy
He said: "The US and China are ahead of other parts of the
world," with Japan and South Korea following up. "Parts of
Europe will move as well, particularly the Nordics, but I do
not see large 5G rollouts in Europe for years to come."
He said Nokia is working with NTT DoCoMo in Japan plus both KT
and SK Telecom in South Korea. The company is running a trial
with Vodafone in Milan and with Telefónica in Segovia.
Nokia also has a pact with China Mobile to look at 5G in
The new generation is needed to cater for the explosion in data
by consumers, he said, pointing out that mobile data will rise
sevenfold between 2016 and 2021. At the same time traffic
between data centres will rise five times as fast, he added.
"There is more and more traffic on the networks of webscale
Ekholm, in what was a hesitant, somewhat disjointed speech from
the man who has run Ericsson for just a year, said the company
had 38 memorandums of understanding with operators for 5G field
trials, though he did not name any. "We have several contracts
for commercial delivery of 5G this year."
He echoed Suri by saying "mobile networks must cope with the
surge in data traffic" which is rising at 65% a year and will
have grown eightfold by 2023.
There will be 5G devices on the market next year, he said, and
he forecast that by 2023 there will be one billion subscribers
using 5G for enhanced mobile broadband.
Factories will have "more than one sensor per cubic metre"
connected to the internet of things (IoT), he said, all using
licensed spectrum rather than Wifi.
"There will be a $600 billion market in 2026 for massive IoT
deployment around the world," said Ekholm. Though "we
don’t know which use case will ultimately pay for
5G", he said the industrial IoT will provide "new revenue
Like Suri, he said spectrum is important. "We believe
governments need to make new spectrum available in the mid-band
and high bands." He called spectrum "a critical national
resource" that governments should regard as part of their
He agreed with Suri is identifying the early areas for 5G.
"Development is being driven by North America and north-east
Asia, with China being a leader, along with Japan and several
other nations round there."
Huawei, the major world rival to both Ericsson and Nokia, is
banned from selling network equipment in the US – as
is fellow Chinese vendor ZTE. Does this give Nokia an unfair
advantage and put prices up for US consumers, Capacity asked
Suri. "This is a competitive industry," he said.
Mobile World Congress