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Reducing Competition Will Not Affect 5G Deployment Costs, Says Ericsson

Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has junked the argument that the cost of 5G network rollout in India will increase if some companies are barred from doing business in the country. Chinese telecom gear major Huawei and some third party industry reports have claimed that rolling out 5G technology will become expensive if the Chinese company is blocked from any country as the remaining firms will jack up prices.

“We have launched 5G in four continents in the last twelve months and we are first in those four continents. The four continents are America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In some of those continents we are alone… and it is working very well. So I mean, in practice it is not true right? We can make it work everywhere,” Ericsson’s Head South East Asia, Oceania and India, Nunzio Mirtillo told in an interview.

He also said the cost of data produced in 5G network will be around 10 times cheaper than in the 4G network.

The US has been lobbying to block Huawei from rolling out telecom networks in various countries and alleged it poses a cyber espionage threat. The US, however, has not been able to establish the same with technical evidence.

Mirtillo said it is a country’s decision on how they want to protect their 5G network from cyber espionage.

“Obviously it is an important digital infrastructure they need to take care of…and that is the country’s job to regulate. It is an important highway, right? It is the digital highway of the country,” Mirtillo said.

Earlier this month, telecom tycoon Sunil Mittal came out in strong defence of Huawei, arguing that its products were “leading edge” and “superior” to rivals Nokia and Ericsson, and advocated that the firm should be in play in the country, even as the US government has flagged “genuine security issues” around the Chinese firm.

Asked about Mittal’s comments, Mirtillo said, “We respect Sunil and Bharti is our very old and dear customer. At the same time, we focus on ourselves making sure that we continue our partnership with Bharti in the best possible way. We have been working with Bharti since 1994, basically quarter of a century, and we are still great partners.”

The company was recently selected by Bharti Airtel to deploy 5G enabled core technology in its network.

Mirtillo declined to offer his views on the ongoing geopolitical lobbying in the telecom technology arena.

“We focus on the technology and on our customers. That is the only thing we can do. We don’t comment and we don’t have competence on the rest. Even if we would like to comment, which we never do, we will not be a reliable source for you. We are not experts on that. We only focus on technology, we can talk about Massive MIMO or 4G, spectrum efficiency, and we cannot talk about the rest,” he said.

Mirtillo claimed that 5G network using Ericsson can be deployed with mid-band radiowaves.

In India, the government has 175 Mhz of undisputed spectrum available in mid-band and the Department of Telecom is trying to get more radiowaves available in the same band for the upcoming auction.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, at the India Mobile Congress last week, announced that spectrum auction will be held during the ongoing fiscal.

However, DoT will not be able to include radiowaves in millimeter waves in the proposed auction as it is yet to seek reference on prices from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Ericsson expects that operators will continue to operate by sourcing network equipment from multiple vendors and not depend on a single vendor.

“We love competition, we expect the competition to stay. So if there is competition, it will be multiple vendors, that is what we know is the case… Then somewhere it would be precise rule, mono vendors, some free vendors, but we think we will continue to be in a multi-vendor market,” Mirtillo said.―Times of India

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