Telecommunications giant Ericsson's President and CEO Hans Vestberg laid out the company's agenda at a press conference in Barcelona's Maritime Museum during the opening day of Mobile World Congress, highlighting the importance of mobilizing all the company's assets across all markets, particularly emerging markets such as China and India.
The company also announced a deal with network operator AT&T to bring a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to customers in the United States.
AT&T said it is planning field trials of LTE technology later this year, with commercial deployment scheduled to begin in 2011. AT&T previously named Ericsson as a key supplier for wireline access products and services. To date, Ericsson has signed commercial LTE contracts with four other global operators, two of which are in the United States. LTE enables a faster transfer of data by enhancing use of the frequency spectrum, resulting in increased speed and decreased latency.
"The announcement is an important step forward in our ongoing mobile broadband strategy, which is focused on delivering the best possible combination of speed, performance and available devices for customers at every level of technology deployment," said AT&T's President and CEO of AT&T Operations John Stankey. "AT&T has a key advantage in that LTE is an evolution of the existing GSM family of technologies that powers our network and the vast majority of the world's global wireless infrastructure today."
Vestberg predicted that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices across a worldwide mobile network, which will change business models as well as the demands of consumers. "We will see a big switch from voice to data demand," he said. "The most important thing is cooperation between players in our industry: Our ability to work together to meet the demands of a rapidly changing market has been a crucial element."
Ericsson also announced an application store for all handset users called eStore. It serves as a marketplace where operators can set up and offer mobile phone users an application store with more than 30,000 applications downloadable to any mobile handset. Some of the applications are free to download, while others can be paid via a prepay system or via the user's phone bill. Ericsson partner Opera Software ASA provides the client framework for widgets and applications across multiple channels and devices. Vestberg described the venture as an open landscape-style store with a traditional revenue-sharing model.
Ericsson also used the convention to showcase a live demo of LTE/4G with speeds of 1GB per second in the downlink. The demonstration utilized Multi Carrier technology and Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) and ran on Ericsson commercial LTE hardware. The demonstration used four carriers of 20MHz each, totally 80MHz and 4x4 MIMO, where data is sent over the air interface on four independent bit streams.
When it comes to spectrum allocation and rollout in the United States and Europe, Vestberg was more vague, saying the issue was broad, noting that countries like Germany and Sweden had already decided on the issue but for other countries it may take a few years. "Technology is the most important asset we have, and this is the new light bulb," he said, holding up a mobile phone.