Ericsson could double the number of cloud-native 5G SA operators in 2023

Ericsson could double the number of cloud-native 5G standalone (SA) operators in existence during the next year or so. 

“We have 40 customers, of course, only three of them are live right now,” Staffan Henriksson, head of sales for cloud infrastructure at Ericsson, told us on a call. The one live contract that Henriksson is permitted to name is SK Telecom, which is the largest wireless operator in South Korea.

Ericsson could double the number of cloud-native 5G SA operators in 2023
(Staffan Henriksson, Ericsson)

“They’ve been live for a few months now,” the Swede added. He said that SKT and one other unnamed provider are using the infrastructure for 5G SA, while one secret operator is using the cloud-native infrastructure for service enablement.

Counting the cores

As Silverlinings reported earlier, Dell’Oro Group said that at the end of 2022, there were 39 operators globally launching or testing cloud-native 5G SA cores. 

Dell’Oro Group research director Dave Bolan wrote in a 2023 prediction blog that Reliance Jio, China Telecom-Macau and Globe Telecom pushed the number of 5G SA networks launched in 2022 over the 2021 total. 

Commercially Deployed 5G SA eMMB Networks by MNO, Dell'Oro Group

“We do expect more to launch in 2023,” Bolan told us. He said that many more operators are prepping their networks to go standalone.

Based on our conversation with Henriksson, we can expect Ericsson to be a major vendor in the shift to cloud-native standalone in 2023. And this is even before we’ve heard from the other big communications infrastructure vendors on the topic. 2023 is looking like the year for 5G SA.

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