Arun Bansal, Ericsson’s SVP and head of Europe & Latin America, played down suggestions that Europe is falling behind North America in 5G, insisting that both markets are pursuing different use cases.
Bansal, speaking at the Swedish vendor’s 5G innovation event in Aachen, Germany, said he “did not agree” with the notion that Europe was lagging, as he pointed to Ericsson’s ongoing work with 5G technology development.
“Ericsson is doing 33 trials with operators, almost equally distributed between continents, and we are working with many industries in Europe too,” he said.
Bansal dismissed talk around Europe’s struggles with the technology as “a lot of media discussion”.
Notably, however, a group of cross industry associations earlier this month slammed the European Union’s 5G regulatory approach.
Hossein Moiin, mobile networks CTO at Ericsson’s biggest European rival, Nokia, then stated at a press briefing he was “not optimistic about Europe”, as he tipped the US to lead with initial 5G deployment.
Bansal however was adamant today it was unfair to make the comparison, with the US in particular driving the “first use case for 5G” – fixed wireless.
Europe, on the other hand, was going after the industry use case, which will be more sensitive to latency requirements and would take and longer to develop.
“Europe needs to wait until the real 5G specifications are ready and the commercial 5G infrastructure is ready with latency requirements of sub 5 milliseconds,” he said.
“I don’t think latency is so paramount for the [fixed wireless] user experience, which will be more about speed than throughput and quality of service.”
He added that nothing is stopping Europe from developing the 5G use case for consumers, but “for now, Europe is mainly driven by the industrial use case, which will require certain 5G parameters that will come in the 2019-2020 timeframe”.
Operators well placed
Despite recent concerns in the industry about the cost required to deploy 5G, Bansal said MNOs were in a good position because “5G will be an evolution for 4G”.
“it won’t be a revolution where operators have to build completely new 5G networks, they can migrate a lot of what they are investing today,” he said.
“A lot of the software will be upgradeable to offer 5G like services, so network operators that have built up the network already will be at a significant advantage to leverage their existing investment for new 5G use cases.”