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Business News/ Industry / Telecom/  Tech-leading India market critical for Ericsson: Borje Ekholm

Tech-leading India market critical for Ericsson: Borje Ekholm

Ekholm said the telecom gear maker will begin offering AI solutions which will be built into its products and will provide improved efficiency and network functionalities

Ericsson president and chief executive officer Börje Ekholm.Premium
Ericsson president and chief executive officer Börje Ekholm.

BARCELONA : Ericsson intends to beef up its India presence as local telcos will demand the latest technology ahead of their global peers, the company’s president and chief executive officer Börje Ekholm said in an exclusive interaction with Mint on the sidelines of the mobile world congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

“India is a big market, a growing market, and an early adopter of digital technologies. More importantly, it's a technology leading market today, so we need to deploy the latest technologies in India in order to accommodate the growth in traffic and have energy efficiency at the same time. So, for us, big presence in India is critical for our long-term development of the technology as well," he said.

Ekholm said the Swedish telecom gear maker will begin offering AI (artificial intelligence) solutions in its products. “We're using GenAI (generative AI), but we're also starting to build it into our products in the way the products are, or the way the network functionalities are exposed. So, we're starting to see that happening now," he said. Ericsson is already using GenAI in internal operations for software development and for administrative processes, to become more efficient.

Ericsson introduced Explainable AI for telcos in mid-February to improve network design and optimisation to enhance end user experience. It has also introduced tools for telcos to improve their own productivity. Its transport automation controller flags network degradations or issues with capacity utilisation, and provides insights to telcos on how to improve performance.

The top boss admitted that while business from India will flatten after the lightning-fast pace of 5G deployment in the country, telcos will also begin rolling out fixed wireless access, which will raise data consumption among consumers and, hence, will require network coverage to be made more dense. This will require more investments towards networks.

“We've predicted that in 2024 we'll see lower volumes, partly because India will normalize. It's going to slow down a bit... but the Indian consumer will continue to use the data, consumption continues to grow. You add fixed wireless access, so it grows even faster," he said.

India sales for Ericsson fell 40% sequentially to 4,560 crore in October-December 2023, while it rose 14% year-on-year, owing to higher sales of telecom equipment as Airtel and Jio deployed 5G.

On Monday, Ericsson said it had deployed 100,000 Massive MIMO 5G radios for Airtel across its 12 circles within a record time of 500+ days, mapping more than 65 million customers that are able to use 5G in these regions.

5G monetisation will not remain just a concept, he added, noting that features of the network like low latency, quality of service, and location accuracy will have to be presented in a new way through network APIs (application programming interfaces), which can enable app development on networks. That would be the next step for network monetisation.

“APIs is one of the top topics. So far, monetization on the network has been monthly subscriptions for prepaid. So, the change that has to happen and we need to move that whole industry. So, we think it's a massive opportunity," he said.

Ekholm also called out the Digital India stack as a phenomenon and said that digitization efforts of the Indian government were going to drive digital use cases, which can in turn be channelled for monetisation.

He added that new technologies like OpenRAN would enable networks to be cloud based and fully programmable. “That’s why we've said that we are going to be a leader in the open world. We're committed to that and that's what we have invested for," he said. On Monday, AT&T and Ericsson today announced they have begun deploying Ericsson Cloud RAN technology on AT&T's commercial 5G network.


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Published: 26 Feb 2024, 09:09 PM IST
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