Ericsson hits 100 mark for 5G deals

Ericsson’s commercial 5G deal tally reached 100 on Wednesday, as the Swedish vendor announced a new contract with Telekom Slovenije to hit the triple-digit milestone.

The 100 commercial 5G contracts or agreements are with unique service providers, 58 of which have been publicly announced. As one of the three leading telecom equipment vendors alongside rivals Huawei and Nokia, Ericsson is supplying operators for 5G around the globe. Its gear is in 56 live 5G networks across 29 countries.

Compare that progress to a little under a year ago, when Ericsson had publicly named 24 customers, with 5G equipment in 15 live networks. As of June 2020, there were over 75 commercial 5G network launches globally, regardless of supplier, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report.

Before Wednesday, the vendor disclosed 5G deals with six operators in Central and Eastern Europe, and today’s Telekom Slovenije announcement marks the seventh in that region.

RELATED: Deutsche Telekom selects Ericsson for 5G RAN in Germany

Telekom Slovenije turned on Slovenia’s first 5G network on July 23, just one week after signing a contract with Ericsson on July 16, quickly turning on 5G via a software upgrade to existing Ericsson equipment. Ericsson is supplying RAN and Packet Core solutions, enabling spectrum sharing on the 2.6 GHz FDD spectrum between 4G and 5G. 5G service is first available in major cities in Slovenia, covering around 25% of the population with a target of 33% population coverage by the end of 2020.

5G deployments span operators and approaches

In the U.S., Ericsson’s been involved since early 5G deployments of all the major carriers. First with Verizon announced in late 2017, followed by T-Mobile and AT&T in 2018. The multi-year 5G contract with T-Mobile was worth $3.5 billion.

The next year, Ericsson secured U.S. Cellular, which recently expanded 5G using 600 MHz to 11 new states after first going live this past March using Ericsson’s RAN and Core solutions in nonstandalone (NSA) mode. U.S. Cellular last month started deploying 5G on mmWave spectrum with Ericsson and Nokia equipment. GCI is another U.S. operator using Ericsson, and turned on live 5G sites in Anchorage, Alaska.

RELATED: Verizon takes delivery of Ericsson’s U.S.-made 5G base station

Nokia is also a major supplier for U.S. operators, and has been named along with Ericsson as a 5G vendor for a variety of providers. At last count Nokia had 85 commercial 5G deals with equipment in 33 live 5G networks.

In terms of Ericsson’s contracts, they span both the radio access network (RAN) and core. It was the first major vendor to offer a commercial dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) solution, dubbed Ericsson Spectrum Sharing. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all plan to deploy DSS technology from vendor partners to help roll out 5G more quickly and widespread. AT&T already has DSS live in certain markets (although it hasn't said which vendor’s product it’s using). Verizon has pegged it as a key enabler to deliver broad 5G coverage while making use of existing spectrum resources.

RELATED: Verizon taps Ericsson, Nokia for DSS trials

Swisscom was the first to commercially deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing technology. The operator turned on 5G in Switzerland last year with the Swedish vendor as its sole 5G supplier.

In the announcement about the 100-mark milestone, Ericsson noted 5G deployments have run the gamut in terms of low-, mid-, and high-spectrum bands; urban to rural geographies; and fixed wireless and enhanced mobile broadband applications; as well as both 5G nonstandalone and standalone (SA) mode.

Despite short-term delays in some countries due to COVID-19, 5G is still expected to be the fastest deployed mobile technology in history with global network coverage estimated to grow from roughly 5% in 2019 to between 55-65% by 2025, according to the Mobility Report.

The RAN market also is still poised for growth despite impacts of the global pandemic. In July, Dell’Oro Group upwardly revised its projections for the market, forecasting cumulative RAN investments to be over $200 billion in the 2019-2024 period.

RELATED: RAN market poised to eclipse $200B: Dell’Oro Group

Outside the U.S Ericsson has helped turn on a bevy of live 5G networks, including early movers on 5G like South Korea’s KT, SK Telecom, and LG U+. The vendor is supplying 5G gear for China’s three mobile operators, as well as Japan’s KDDI and SoftBank. In Western Europe Ericsson has gear in 15 live 5G networks, spanning operators including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica’s O2, and Telia, among others.  

The vendor has publicly announced 5G deals with nine service providers in the Middle East and Africa, with the same number of live networks in the region. It’s named three service provider contracts and four 5G networks in South East Asia, Oceania & India. Three Canadian operators also have selected Ericsson. Claro Brasil recently became Ericsson’s first named service provider customer for 5G in Latin America.

More on Ericsson’s 5G contracts here.