GTI SUMMIT 2021: Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm (pictured) lauded praise on China’s progress in developing and advancing 5G as he urged the need to retain open competition among vendors to drive the sector forward.

In his keynote at the GTI Summit, which runs alongside MWC Shanghai, Ekholm took his message pushing open markets to China, having already called on regulators in its home market of Sweden to reverse a decision to exclude rivals ZTE and Huawei from operator 5G rollouts.

Earlier this month, the executive warned shareholders Sweden’s decision could expose its own operations in China, a country the company previously cited as critical to its prospects.

“Competition and cooperation is how the telecom industry grew into one of the largest in the world. On the flipside, anything that restricts competition risks slowing down our industry,” he said. “Market outcomes should be decided by technical performance and the competitiveness of different solutions and network architectures. Confrontation and increased polarisation will not make the world safer.”

Ekholm used his session to praise China’s rollout of 5G, which it has contracts in place for, alongside pointing to the critical role of local companies in shaping future requirements for the network technology.

By the end of 2020, he noted, China accounted for 70 per cent of the world’s 5G subscribers, with 718,000 base stations now providing the technology.

“We need global scale to justify the billions of dollars in R&D that are necessary to keep pace with innovation today,” he added. “This global effort is supported by hundreds of companies and it is impossible to ignore the important role that China plays in these developments.”

Ekholm noted Ericsson had been doing business in China since 1894 and “time has proven we are a trusted partner”.