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Ericsson raises $370m for 5G research

Ericsson has raised credit of $220 million from the Nordic Investment Bank and $150 million from AB Svensk Exportkredit in an effort to expand its 5G R&D efforts.

Ericsson has announced raising almost $400 million for 5G research after last week signalling accelerated deployments, including $220 million from the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and $150 million from AB Svensk Exportkredit.

The funds will be used to support Ericsson's 5G, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) research and development (R&D) activities, the networking giant said, with the credit agreements to mature in 2023 and 2025, respectively.

Of the amount named, $98 million will replace credit from NIB that was due to mature in 2019.

"As part of our focused strategy, we are increasing our investments to secure technology leadership in 5G, IoT, and digital services. Already now, we have 38 operators engaged with us on developing and preparing for 5G networks. This is more than any other company," Ericsson CTO Erik Ekudden said.

"In the coming years, we will see 5G networks going live around the world, with major deployments from 2020, and we believe that there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2023.

"The technologies that we are investing in are fundamentally changing the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, live, and do business."

This month alone, Ericsson was chosen to build the 5G networks of mobile carriers Deutsche Telekom and Verizon, while also running trials with AT&T in Texas and KDDI in Japan, and joining the Australian government's 5G working group.

Ericsson last week also completed several global 5G New Radio (5G NR) interoperability trials following the 3GPP standardisation of non-standalone (NSA) 5G NR specs with Australian mobile carrier Telstra; United States carriers T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T; Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo; Korean carrier SK Telecom; and European carriers Vodafone and Orange.

The live demonstrations utilised the 3.6GHz and millimetre-wave (mmWave) 28GHz spectrum frequencies using Ericsson's pre-commercial 5G base stations.

Ericsson said the demonstration complied with 3GPP's 5G NR specifications including Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO); mmWave support for adaptive beamforming and beam-tracking technologies; Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) waveform numerologies including sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies; dynamic, slot-based subframe structure for data transmissions; and Polar coding and channel coding schemes using low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes for large data blocks and "extreme peak rates" and reliability.

The NSA 5G NR specs were approved by standards body 3GPP a week ago, with an accelerated 5G deployment as a result announced by Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, BT, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, KT Corporation, LG Electronics, LG Uplus, MediaTek, NEC Corporation, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Sprint, TIM, Telefonica, Telia Company, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, and ZTE.

China Telecom EVP Liu Guiqing said the carrier would be looking to launch field trials in many Chinese major cities during 2018; KT CTO Dongmyun Lee committed to "bring full-scale services of the true 5G standards to commercial market as early as 2019"; China Mobile EVP Zhengmao Li is eyeing 2020; NTT DoCoMo CTO Dr Hiroshi Nakamura said the Japanese carrier would launch NSA 5G services by 2020; and SK Telecom EVP Jinhyo Park said the Korean telco would bring 5G into early commercial service in 2019.

Ericsson 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 NR technologies, and will speed up 5G launches for operators, Ericsson said at the time, as well as allow them to boost 4G capacity in metropolitan networks.

As a result, Ericsson claims to have "the most complete 5G portfolio in the industry".

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