Ericsson revealed plans to produce 5G radios and open a new R&D facility in the US later this year as part of a bid to meet operator demand for next generation products as launches near.
CEO Borje Ekholm said in a statement the US is the company’s largest market, accounting for a quarter of its business over the last seven years. In Q2 the company grew North America sales by 11 per cent over the comparable 2017 quarter. He added the increased investment will help bring Ericsson closer to service providers in the country and “meet their accelerated 5G deployment plans”.
The US is aiming to be one of the world leaders in 5G deployment and competition in the network equipment market is hotting up. South Korean vendor Samsung has already established itself as a strong new rival in the region compared with more established players including Ericsson and Nokia Networks.
Ericsson plans to begin manufacturing products in the US in Q4, starting with 5G radios. A dedicated research team will be established to develop additional products specifically for the market, conducting production engineering, testing, integration and supply preparations on early prototypes.
The vendor also said it will open a new software development centre in the US with more than 200 engineers focused on baseband technology, which will supplement an existing ASIC design centre opened in Texas in late 2017. Starting in 2019, the pair of facilities will begin rolling out new 5G products and software for Ericsson’s global portfolio.
It will also increase its R&D investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technology. Ericsson said by the end of 2018, it will build a base of 100 specialists in North America who will explore new business opportunities and aim to boost automation using AI.
The investment comes as US operators including Verizon and AT&T gear up for their initial 5G launches (offering fixed wireless access services) later this year. Rivals including T-Mobile US and Sprint are expected to launch 5G services in 2019.