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John Cunliffe, CTO, Ericsson UK

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John Cunliffe, CTO for Ericsson North Western Europe talks about managed services, LTE and the advances expected over the next decade.

Managed services are an increasing part of Ericsson’s business worldwide. For Ericsson UK, 65 per cent of our revenues come from operating networks for operators. In ten years’ time the vendors will be doing even more to run networks. It’s a complementary business to selling kit but we have to be agnostic about the kit that we operate too, because it’s not just our own kit that we work with.

Managed services leave operators free to concentrate more on their core business, and the operators are starting to focus more on their business than on their networks. Having a good proposition for the consumer is becoming a lot more important. If you look at the various operators in terms of customer offering, they are actually quite different. 3’s offering is quite different to Vodafone’s and O2’s. So the operators can differentiate in that sense regardless of the network.

But the regulator will always want to ensure competition at a network level, so it’s unlikely there will ever be a single network market. We’re seeing a lot of consolidation at the moment, with Orange and T-Mobile and MBNL, and maybe a market like the UK could go down to two or three networks, but not one. The regulator would want to see some physical competition out there.

The operators are becoming more data centric, especially since the launch of mobile broadband. Growth here has been exponential. The question now is around the pace of upgrades; how fast the operator wants to move and how much they want to spend. The actual radio access piece, which is currently HSPA, is currently 7.2Mbps in the UK but we can see operators that will enhance that to 21Mbps shortly with the possibility of doubling that to 42Mbps, still using HSPA. And that’s before we get to LTE at 150Mbps.

With LTE what you get is a simpler network, because it’s all IP. There’s no circuit switched element. The headline speeds are faster and we can see a roadmap getting to 1Gbps assuming the spectrum’s available. You also get much reduced latency, which gives a better user experience. The experience will be ten times better.

The consumer behaviour with disk capacity, memory capacity, CPU capacity has always been to fill it up, regardless of how much space is available. The same is true for fixed broadband and it will also be true for mobile broadband. Take the iPhone – a lot of apps are thin clients that continually download from the web, like Google Maps. Video also causes a lot of data to be used. The amount of video use has been creeping up in lots of different forms and will continue to do so. People used to think of mobile video as a full blown video on demand service, but actually we’re getting video in adverts, via the iPlayer, and other ways that it has come upon us by stealth.

Ericsson predicts 50 billion devices connected to the network by 2020. The majority of that is coming from M2M. The IT industry is responsible for two per cent of carbon emissions globally, so we can directly tackle that small chunk. But the big benefit we can bring is to use our technology smartly and start to address the other 98 per cent in other industries. Ericsson predicts there’s a 15 per cent reduction to be had on the 98 per cent by use of advances in the two per cent (telecoms). Smart meters for example could turn off a refrigerator for 15 minutes to avoid peaks in power demand on the grid.


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