During a virtual address to the GTI Summit, Ekholm emphasized the critical importance of wireless connectivity in today’s world, which has been underscored by the hardships and increased demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He continued by discussing the substantial increase in digital infrastructure investments made by many governments around the world, spurred by the looming need for post-pandemic economic recovery, and noted that 4G has been an essential connectivity provider.
“We believe a similar dynamic will play out for the first movers in 5G, especially in the enterprise domain,” he added, stating that 5G is poised to become the main choice for access technology, enabling industries to “become digitalized in the same way 4G did for consumers.”
“Countries that lead in the digital world will reap clear competitive advantages,” he said. “Those that fail to do so will inevitably lose competitiveness.”
Commitment to 5G rollout in China
Ekholm highlighted that China, currently retaining the majority of the world’s 5G users, will be a key driver in “critical future requirements and new feature developments in 5G.”
He emphasized Ericsson’s support of open markets and the importance of industry-wide cooperation to further economic growth, acknowledging that the global effort to drive innovation and meet growing demands is supported by hundreds of companies, with China standing out as a leader in 5G investments and deployment. Ekholm affirmed that Ericsson remains committed to maintaining its business activities in China.
“Competition and cooperation together are how the telecom industry grew into one of the largest in the world,” he said. “On the flip side, anything that restricts competition runs the risk of slowing down the industry. Market outcomes should be decided by technical performance and the competitiveness of different solutions and network architectures.”
Future trends and 5G progress
Ericsson has identified network slicing as a key enabler for service providers in addressing 5G’s enterprise potential, prompting the company to launch its recent 5G RAN Slicing solution to support “customized business models and the growing demands of use cases in areas including private networks, mission-critical communications, and critical IoT.”
Ekholm went on to emphasize the company’s commitment to its innovation and industry leadership in 5G core solutions, highlighting China Mobile’s Open UPF initiative, where both companies have been working together and supporting China Mobile’s edge and enterprise offerings.
He also made reference to Ericsson’s smart factory in Nanjing, China, now officially commercialized, where it has been “empowering smart manufacturing with the 5G private network that we jointly deployed with China Mobile.” 5G network coverage is expected to cover the entire factory area (more than 20,000sq m) later this year, and the number of use cases being tested and developed there is set to be increased.
Ericsson’s sustainability efforts
Sustainability remains among Ericsson’s chief priorities for 2021, with the ICT industry overall having the potential to make substantial positive impacts on environmental and climate issues.
Ekholm remarked that beyond the ethical and ecological importance of reducing the company’s carbon footprint and overall energy consumption (for example), it is also a business imperative.
Published last year, Ericsson’s Breaking the energy curve report highlights “a unique network-level approach … [to enabling] exponential growth [in] data traffic without increasing energy consumption,” which would result in significant energy savings and reduced total cost of ownership while paving the way for a more sustainable future.
Today, Ericsson is a key member in a number of active sustainability initiatives, including the 1.5°C Supply Chain Leaders, where it provides support and guidance as a founding member to help unite major multinational organizations in the global fight against climate change.
Looking forward to a brighter future
Overall, Ekholm expressed a sense of optimism regarding the future. “As hard as 2020 has been, I’m excited by the future,” Ekholm concludes. “The pace of innovation has never been higher than it is now.… I’m confident that we can build a new connected future with 5G.”