Ericsson network chief Fredrik Jejdling (pictured) backed the vendor for a major role in the open RAN ecosystem, but noted it had to seize the initiative by being first to market with kit supporting new specifications as soon as it can match the performance of existing systems.

During an investor event held online, Jejdling said the company fundamentally believed in open ecosystems and already had a “prominent and impactful role” in the O-RAN Alliance in addition to its work with the 3GPP.

He noted the open RAN was one of the vendor’s R&D priorities but cautioned “we need to put a realistic view on as, how and when it will be introduced into the networks to deliver performance and cost benefits”.

“It is fair to say when we look at our technology development we see off-the-shelf hardware will not [currently] be able to achieve the same cost benefit as our current integrated solution,” Jejdling noted, though conceded this was likely to change over time.

“Open RAN specifications will improve and at the point of time when open RAN specified radios, basebands and configurations have the cost and performance benefits to the level of the integrated solutions we provide today, we need to be the first player providing those in parallel to our current portfolio.”

Though pointing to work on various industry groups, he wrote-off any prospect of Ericsson joining Nokia in the US-focused policy group the Open RAN Policy Coalition.

“We believe these types of forums should not define the types of technology [used], that should be the industry in-line with policy recommendations. Whether that’s virtualised RAN, whether that’s cloud-based RAN, whether that’s open RAN [or an] integrated solution. The industry should evaluate based on the technology.”

5G progress
During the session, Jejdling and Ericsson head of business area Digital Services Jan Karlsson also talked-up the company’s 5G progress within both divisions and dismissed the prospect of any large impacts from Covid-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns.

Jedjling noted confinement measures were easing in many of its European markets and several areas now had no restrictions in place.

The comments came days after the company wrote down the value of assets related to its China business in its network division, though Jejdling noted the company stood by its financial forecasts for the year.