Ericsson launches 5G design centre in Texas

Ericsson will use its new Austin, Texas design centre for designing, developing, and testing core microelectronics for 5G radio base stations and for collaborating with industry on silicon solutions.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Networking giant Ericsson has opened a new 5G design site in the United States, which it said will be used to develop and test core microelectronics for 5G radio base stations.

The Ericsson Austin Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) Design Center in Texas will provide jobs for around 80 designers by mid-2018, and encourage industry collaboration with nearby silicon-fabrication plants in Austin on designing solutions ahead of 5G commercialisation.

According to Ericsson, its ASIC microelectronics are 100 times faster, more cost effective, and more power efficient than general computing processors.

"We are strengthening our radio design capability in one of the world's 5G pioneer markets. We'll be up and running with our first group of designers in Austin by the end of 2017," Ericsson head of Development Unit Networks Sinisa Krajnovic said.

"Along with our ASIC design teams in Sweden and China, we'll be making faster, better, and greener 5G products to bring into the Ericsson portfolio by 2019."

Ericsson had earlier this year collaborated with IBM Research to develop a "research breakthrough" in 5G network technology, saying a new silicon-based millimetreWave (mmWave) phased array integrated circuit could accelerate 5G uptake.

Ericsson has this week also announced partnering with Egyptian telecommunications provider Etisalat Misr, signing a four-year deal to upgrade its core network business support systems across the nation.

According to Ericsson, the contract will involve 4G technology being used to "pave the way for 5G and Internet of Things" (IoT) applications, including voice over LTE (VoLTE), voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi), unified communications, and service-aware policy control.

Etisalat Misr CEO Hazem Metwally said the network business support systems upgrade will double the capacity of its systems, "which will allow us to provide more innovation to our customers, resulting in more traffic passing through our network".

"The project will be a significant milestone for Etisalat Misr, allowing shorter time to market, commercial innovation, and improved user experience. It will also have a positive impact on the capital and operational expenditure," Ericsson added.

"The subscribers will be able to enjoy highly flexible and personalised offerings, including cross-bundling and add-on services. They will also have access to shared data plans and family offerings, which will provide them with a single bill and a consolidated spending view."

According to Etisalat Misr IT Vice President Amr Fathy, the project with Ericsson will involve introducing Egypt to 4G and 5G.

Ericsson's 5G research saw it partner with Intel to complete the first ever 5G multi-vendor end-to-end interoperability development test across the 3.5GHz spectrum band in China last month.

Ericsson's 5G 3.5GHz radio testbed prototype -- which makes use of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), multi-user MIMO, and beam forming -- and Intel's 5G mobile trial platform were used for the trials.

"We recognise the importance and innovation of the Chinese market, and by working closely with ecosystem partners such as Intel, we are helping to pave the way for a successful rollout of 5G in the future," Ericsson's head of Market Area North East Asia Chris Houghton said at the time.

Ericsson similarly added a frequency-division duplex (FDD) radio with support for 5G and Massive MIMO to its 5G platform in September, saying it will provide a "bridge" between 4G and 5G by boosting capacity with current mobile spectrum.

The AIR 3246 radio supports both 4G LTE and 5G New Radio (NR) technologies, and will speed up 5G launches for operators, Ericsson said, as well as allow them to boost 4G capacity in metropolitan networks.

As a result, it now has "the most complete 5G portfolio in the industry", Ericsson said.

"The new radio will enable operators to enhance 4G capacity for their subscribers today and be ready for 5G tomorrow, using the same hardware," Ericsson head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling said last month.

"We also complement the products with a set of network services, simplifying the journey to 5G for our customers."

Ericsson's AIR 3246 radio will be available commercially in the second quarter of 2018 and will join its three previously launched time-division duplex (TDD) LTE radios that support 5G and Massive MIMO, with its 5G platform also providing core, transport, digital support, and security.

Trials of 5G with operators across the globe have seen Ericsson attain data transfer speeds of 3.6Gbps on connected cars with SK Telecom and BMW; download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia with Telstra; use its 28GHz radios, virtualised RAN (vRAN), and full 5G virtualised core for trials with AT&T; and attain speeds of over 6Gbps during trials with Verizon during the Indianapolis 500 motor race in addition to working with Verizon on 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the US.

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