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Ericsson and Nokia CEOs compare 5G sizes

Ekholm Ericsson May 19

For some reason the CEOs of both Ericsson and Nokia have felt compelled to make public statements defending their 5G performance.

In a piece headlined ‘Europe and 5G: Address the reality — not the myths’, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm (pictured) indicated he’s not happy with claimed rumours that his company is a bit limp when it comes to 5G. You can see how that would chafe somewhat as Ericsson’s entire strategy hinges on it being a 5G stud, but Ekholm wasn’t kind enough to share the sources of these malicious rumours, so we’ll just have to take his word for it.

The purpose of the piece seems to be to defend Ericsson’s, rather than Europe’s, 5G reputation, but a headline more like ‘Anyone who says we’re rubbish at 5G is lying and no returns’ might have come over as a tad self-serving. Nonetheless Ekholm commenced by listing all the times Ericsson has knocked it out of the park with 5G recently. “These are quite simply indisputable facts,” he wrote. “It’s impossible to be behind in 5G when there is no-one in front of us.”

The Europe angle seems to come from the fear that people are saying Europe’s 5G rollout is behind because Ericsson is one of the main kit vendors here. Ekholm insists this has nothing to do with Ericsson and is due to regulators getting in the way. Consequently it looks like we spend too much time mulling stuff over when we should be getting on with updating infrastructure and buying shiny new kit. Funny that.

Ekholm concluded with a call for European regulators to get their acts together, especially when it comes to making spectrum available and not over-charging operators for it. So in seeking to exonerate Ericsson from any blame for Europe’s 5G failings Ekholm was also careful not to pin any of the blame on his operator customers too, which was wise.

Meanwhile Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri used Nokia’s AGM to chest-beat about the 5G market too. “5G is not the future anymore. It is here, and Nokia is leading it,” he said. “We are winning deals and rolling out some of the world’s first 5G networks. We now have 37 5G commercial contracts – 20 with named customers including T-Mobile, AT&T, STC, and Telia – and more than half of them include wider portfolio elements that our competitors cannot match. We have some amazing technology.

“In fact, in pretty much every network where Nokia products are deployed, we are the performance leader. This doesn’t just happen on its own. It happens because we focus on excelling in the technology that matters the most. 5G is now accelerating and the power of Nokia’s end-to-end portfolio is being recognized.”

Alright Rajeev, we get it, your 5G is the biggest. Neither CEO directly referred to any competitors, they clearly don’t want to make journalists’ jobs too easy, but with Huawei’s plight worsening by the day it looks like Ericsson and Nokia are ramping up their competitive messaging against each other. The 5G race is clearly a touchy subject for both companies and we happily invite them to use Telecoms.com as a platform to slag each other off as much as they want.

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