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Q&A with Magnus Ewerbring

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This month Policy World interviews, Magnus Ewerbring, CTO – APAC, Ericsson

Q. You recently attended the IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum in Singapore which has an audience of mainly communications regulators and other policy makers. Yet you are the Chief Technology Officer for the APAC region for Ericsson: you talked about the fact that 5G is already available – what are the key concerns for the regulator of this technology in your view?

A. The capabilities of 5G span several dimensions and open many new business use-cases and possibilities. But to ensure successful 5G deployments, government and regulatory bodies will have to recommend policies charting out distinct directions on spectrum sharing and availability.

Also, security and privacy will become the cornerstones in the world of connected things and humans enabled by 5G. The full scope of security, privacy and resilience will be a concern that goes far beyond technology. It will have an impact on legal frameworks, regulation and actions by commercial entities and individuals. We will therefore see an increased regulatory involvement in how the entire 5G system will operate.

A multi-stakeholder approach involving operators, vendors, regulators, policy makers and representatives of 5G users (for example, industry segments) therefore is fundamental to deploying and running 5G networks. Pre-standardization consensus building, such as joint research by the different stakeholders, is also extremely crucial. One example of such an initiative that we are a part of, is the “5G for Sweden” program. It is a joint collaboration between academic institutions, telecom companies and other industries, with the purpose of taking a leading position in digitalization.

Q. An example you gave was the use of 5G and technology to create automated haulage systems, which you said were being trialled. There are concerns about the safety of driverless and autonomous cars, what are the safety features in place for the use of trucks on our highways and how can they be made secure?

A. With the onset of 5G, vehicles on the roads will have the power to communicate with each other, and with other devices on the road. This will improve safety, lead to pre-payments on toll roads, grant access to additional services that can warn of upcoming dangers, or provide other information that is of interest for the drivers.

The next generation of intelligent transport systems (ITS) will combine both V2V and V2I (Vehicle to infrastructure) allowing vehicles to operate autonomously and be controlled and monitored from cloud-hosted software. Such systems may involve remote management of a fleet of vehicles, where a remote operator or an automated system is in control of all vehicles. Basically, 5G mobile networks will be a major enabler of auto industry transformation and auto haulage systems.

Specifically, when self-driving vehicles (SDVs) hit the streets, they are sure to make our roadways safer than ever before and as networks evolve to 5G, we will have the responsiveness needed to make self-driving cars a reality. Once low latency 5G delivers the bandwidth and resilience for real-time data communication, self-driving vehicles will interact with the world around them in an increasingly sophisticated manner.

Q. Is 5G a technology just for industry or does it have a relevance for consumers? Won’t 4G suffice for the retail customer? Will further ‘digital divides’ be created between those who can afford the latest technologies and those who cannot?

A. We expect enhanced Mobile broadband to be one of the early use cases for 5G .5G will be relevant for end users, especially, from data user’s perspective. 5G networks will provide up to 100 times faster data rates from today which means one can download a full-length HD movie in seconds. Broadly speaking, we need widespread connectivity to address the ever-growing demand for mobile broadband – 5G networks would bring much higher data rates as well as connection density. 5G will play a central role in delivering customer value, managing increasing data traffic and enhancing the user experience.

Mobile data consumption is growing rapidly. Between 2017 ~2023, data traffic is projected to rise at a CAGR of 40%, assuming the current grid . On an average this means that 8 times more traffic per site . On top of this growth in mobile broadband data, completely new use cases will also evolve such as Fixed Wireless access, Massive IoT and Critical IoT which will further increase the data traffic. Furthermore, the requirements on delivering a good user experience are continuously increasing, Networks must be evolved and expanded to accommodate this growth. In the near term, a large share of the growth will come from 4G devices , requiring 4G networks to be scaled accordingly However , as 5G enabled devices appear in the market , 5G traffic will increase and the new , cost efficient 5G network functionality will help operators manage the upsurge.

Q. For those not in the know – the IIC covers the entire TMT sector – what do you mean when you speak of ‘network slicing’. Does that suggest lesser ability or connectivity for some applications or services and how will these decisions be made?

A. Network Slicing enables logical networks that are customized to meet the needs of each application. It provides customized connectivity that will benefit many industries by offering a smart way to segment the network to support particular services or business segments. Slices can be optimized by a myriad characteristics including latency or bandwidth requirements. Since the slices are isolated from each other in the control and user planes as well supported use case, the user experience of the network slice will be the same as if it was a physically separate network.

Q. What are the particular challenges that you face in the APAC region as Ericsson addresses the digital transformation of the sector?

A. Digital Transformation and adoption of technologies like NFV and SDN is a major change for telecom operators around the world and the challenges range from management of both the native and virtual infrastructure, technology choices as well as organizational maturity and willingness to embrace this change. But what is driving the telcos towards opting for these technologies is operational agility and the ability to ensure faster time to market of new products and services. We are supporting a successful digital transformation journey with implementation-focused consulting services built on a strong technology foundation.

We asked Magnus Ewerbring, CTO of Ericsson in APAC, for his views on the future of 5G, its relevance for consumers and how networks will be ‘sliced’ to support different applications in the future.

Infrastructure and Spectrum: 5G and next generation networks, Content: innovation, regulation and markets, Investment
Magnus Ewerbring Magnus Ewerbring CTO, Asia-Pacific, Ericsson
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