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Antonio Passarella, Country Manager and Key Account Manager Western Balkans, Ericsson

5g Network Is The Future

Ericsson, a global leader in technology communications and services that is this year celebrating 140 years of its existence, whilst also commemorating 20 years of successful operations in Serbia, today collaborates with many telecommunications operators to develop and test the 5G network

We will see 5G scale up in 2020, and we estimate close to 100 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by the end of this year. Early mover service providers will focus on bringing wide 5G coverage. They will focus on consumer services as enhanced mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Access.

You are working intensively on the development and testing of the 5G network. Where will it be possible to apply 5G and what will it bring us?

– Partners and we have been working with 5G technology for several years in the labs and advanced outdoor field trials. In Serbia, we have already demonstrated 5G with Telekom Srbija.

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These tests were key to developing leading technologies for the standard, as well as competitive product portfolios. A year ago, we saw the first 5G networks switched on, which focused clearly on consumers. These networks were primarily bringing 5G coverage to cities and highly populated areas, and there were 13 million subscriptions globally by the end of 2019.

We will see 5G scale up in 2020, and we estimate close to 100 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by the end of this year. Early mover service providers will focus on bringing wide 5G coverage. They will focus on consumer services as enhanced mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Access, and we will see trials continue for industries.

There could be a one-to-two-year delay on 5G in Europe if a certain supplier is excluded because European vendors don’t have enough supply capacity. Is this true?

– It’s often said that the exclusion of a particular vendor would delay 5G in Europe by months or years. We think there is a risk that certain European countries will fall behind, but 5G delays in Europe are not tied to the choice of a technology vendor.

This is one of those moments when companies like Ericsson must strive more than ever to act with values and responsibility in the service of society

Rather Europe faces a series of structural problems, such as a lack of licenses for spectrum, high spectrum fees and regulation that is not investment-friendly. Countries that have implemented national security restrictions on 5G have not reported any delays in their roll-out of 5G.

Is it true that non-European vendors are one-to-two years ahead of European competitors in terms of technology and that no viable alternative exists?

– We find that difficult to believe, given that Ericsson was the first with commercial live networks on four continents. Ericsson’s technology delivered the first commercial 5G live network in Europe with Swisscom, which provided coverage of 90 per cent of the population just eight months after the launch.

We currently have 86 commercial agreements or contracts with unique operators, 27 of which are live commercial networks. In terms of 5G performance, in South Korea, our mid-band 5G delivers better coverage, 100 per cent better uplink speeds and five per cent better download speeds than the second-best competitor measured in the same city.

The EU has unveiled a 5G toolbox to tackle security threats. Do you agree with its recommendations?

– Protecting end-users requires a holistic approach that considers mitigation in four areas: standards, products and development processes, network deployments and network operation. 

Antonio Passarella Ericsson

Collectively, these four areas define the security status of live networks and hence the de facto end-user security experience. Given the interdependency between areas, it is critical to ensure coordinated and comprehensive implementation of the mitigating measures proposed in the joint toolbox. The responsibility for implementation rests predominantly with EU member states, and in some cases with EU institutions. We stand ready to support this process to ensure a high level of protection for European citizens and business.

Ericsson supports relevant activities towards setting industry standards on security assurance for cloud services and virtualised deployments that take into consideration relevant use cases from a 5G perspective. Ericsson contributes actively to security standards supporting 5G security implementation such as 3GPP, GSMA, ETSI and IETF.

However, our experience also leads us to highlight that certifying software or hardware does not mean it is flawless. Unnoticed imperfections of testing lead to a false sense of security. For example, the Common Criteria (CC) certification evaluation process is too rigid in its requirement for each product to be evaluated, given that any patch, update or feature addition will render the certification void. For this reason, the EU’s 5G toolbox added Technical Measures and also Strategic Measures. Member states are expected to assess the risk profile of suppliers and consequently apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk, including making necessary exclusions to mitigate risks effectively.

Certifying software or hardware does not mean it is flawless. Unnoticed imperfections of testing lead to a false sense of security

With the COVID-19 epidemic, emergency mobile networks are even more crucial than usual. What is Ericsson’s role?

– I believe that this is one of those moments when companies like Ericsson must strive more than ever to act with values and responsibility in the service of society. We support our customers by granting network deployment and maintenance, and therefore the availability of voice and internet services to citizens, public administrations and enterprises.

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